Thursday, February 01, 2018

State Government needs wake-up call about Victoria’s oral health crisis

Dentists urge the Victorian Government to act on the State’s oral health crisis and stop the blame game

A new AIHW report, A discussion of public dental waiting times information in Australia 2013–14 to 2016–17, has exposed soaring waiting times in the public dental system, and while this information is clear in other states, the most recent data for Victoria is unavailable, with the Department of Health and Human Services citing ‘data quality concerns’ as the reason for this omission.

Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) President, Dr Susan Wise said, “Victorians deserve to know how their public dental system is performing. We urge the Victorian Government to publish the 2016-17 Victorian public dental waiting time data that is missing from the AIHW report”.

ADAVB CEO, Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft said, “The lack of detail in the report on Victorian wait times is highly concerning. Is the State Government trying to cover up the extent of the oral health crisis unfolding in Victoria? The continuous cycle of inadequate funding in both prevention and treatment for oral health has directly led to this rotten situation -  State and Federal government need to resolve their funding disputes and take action now”.

While Commonwealth funding for public dental services through the National Partnership Agreement has decreased, the Victorian Government needs to stop the blame game and take responsibility for dental health in their own backyard; commit to addressing increasing waiting times and inequitable access; and to appropriately fund and support the public dental workforce to deliver the care that Victorians need.

A/Prof Hopcraft said, “We can’t afford to wait and delay any longer as waiting lists continue to grow, and the oral health of children and adults deteriorates as they wait for much need dental treatment, which in turn impacts on their quality of life, well-being and even employment prospects. The Victorian Government needs to invest substantially more in our public dental system, with funding remaining almost static between 2013-2017. Due to population growth and CPI, this means that funding is in fact sliding backwards.”

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