Dental waiting list grows

PATIENTS will have to wait for another year before the ballooning wait at the Bundaberg Hospital Dental Clinic begins to be curbed.

The state government promised $9.5 million to add an extra seven dental chairs to the clinic in 2008.

But Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District northern cluster manager Beth Norton said the new clinic would not be completed until late next year.

The waiting list to receive dental care in Bundaberg is hovering at around seven years — up from the six-and-a-half year wait in 2008 when the new clinic was first promised.

Ms Norton said construction has not started on the new clinic but planning was “well advanced”.

“The new oral health facility will have seven additional new chairs. We expect this will reduce the wait for care as the service capacity of oral health services will be more than doubled,” she said.

But while work on the public dental clinic may have stalled, private dentists Burnett Dental Centre and 1300 Smiles are rapidly expanding.

The dental service is constructing a second six-chair facility near the Post Office on Bourbong Street.

“It is our aim to reduce waiting times for dental services to all patients in the Wide Bay Region, offering services such as Teen Dental Scheme and the EPC Medicare Chronic Disease Program relieving the strain on the public health system,” practice manager Samantha Hawes said.

Ms Hawes said the new clinic meant the centres would have a total of nine dentists and hoped to see about 31,000 patients a year — twice the number they see at their five-chair practice on Barolin Street.

“It’s been an expensive exercise .... well in excess of $1 million,” she said.

“It’s also been a great creator of employment and we are hoping to have six new dental assistants and six new receptionists.”

An additional two dentists will start at the centre in October.

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