|Dental Health Reform - Back on the Agenda?|
15 February 2011
The NSW Oral Health Alliance welcomes the Australian Governments formal commitment to pursue dental health reforms in the latest COAG agreement, but says it must be backed up with real long term funding.
The NSW Oral Health Alliance spokesperson, Alison Peters said: “Oral health remains one of the areas of greatest inequity in our society, yet it has been starkly absent from the health reform agenda.”
“Although the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission recommended funding of basic dental services as a priority in 2009, oral health was a gaping hole in the previous health reform agreement. So we are pleased that Governments have formally recognised the need for action on dental services.” said Ms Peters.
She said “The critical issue now is will Governments put their money where their mouths are? This health reform agreement secures over $16.4bn for hospital services – but nothing for public dental services.” This is despite the fact that there are over half a million people on public dental waiting lists across Australia - considerably more than on public hospital waiting lists.
The President of the Australian Dental Association (NSW Branch), Mark Sinclair said “Additional investment in the public dental system is desperately needed. Ensuring access to timely oral health services for those most in need requires a significant and long-term commitment – not just small, short term enhancements.”
The NSW Oral Health Alliance is calling on the future NSW Government to prioritise oral health and to work constructively with the Commonwealth to ensure that real reforms are delivered as soon as practical.
Ms Peters said “For too long political buck-passing between the State and Commonwealth has resulted in a chronically under-funded public dental system in NSW– with the biggest impact on those people who are already experiencing disadvantage and hardship.”
“Whoever wins Government in NSW in March must commit to urgent action to address the inequities in oral health. A fair NSW means that everyone should have access to good oral health – not just those who can afford to pay for it.” said Ms Peters.
Media Contact: Alison Peters, Director 0425 231 814 (mob) (02) 9211 2599 (wk)