Vulnerable Gympie dental patients are being forced to travel
CHILDREN and special needs patients are being forced to leave Gympie to receive vital dental care procedures.
Gympie MP Tony Perrett said local dentists were being denied access to theatres at the Gympie Hospital to treat patients who needed general anaesthesia, an allegation the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service could not deny today.
"I have been approached by local dentists who say that the closure of the Gympie Private Hospital has forced them to look for alternative venues for conducting procedures in a theatre,” he said.
"Emergency treatment and routine procedures for these vulnerable patients are often best performed in an operating theatre.
"Dentists had previously used the Gympie Private Hospital to conduct the treatments.
"When the hospital closed I was assured by the Department of Health that it would be business as usual and that there would be little impact on our local community.
"It is clearly evident this has not happened.
"Dentists are now having to refer these highly vulnerable patients to travel outside the region for either treatment by someone else or to go Noosa Private Hospital so they can receive procedures in a hospital theatre.
"It means services in this region are going backwards,” he said.
The CEO of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service said Mr Perrett's tried to assert that Mr Perrett had it wrong earlier today by telling The Gympie Times "these claims are not correct”.
"The Gympie oral health service offers treatment to public dental patients under general anaesthetic at Gympie Hospital,” chief executive Adj Prof Naomi Dwyer said.
"Patients can access public dental care by calling the Oral Health Call Centre on 1300 300 850.
But the SCHHS could not deny that private dentists had nowhere to operate now.
Mr Perrett said Australian Dental Association Queensland president Dr Adrian Flick had written to him raising concerns about the impact this was having on those who are unable to travel for a number of reasons, including age and disability.
"Gympie is a low socio economic area and denying access puts an added financial and emotional cost on patients, their families and carers who are forced to travel significant distances for services that were available in Gympie only a few months ago,” Mr Perrett said.
"It is not good enough.
"It's not as if using the Gympie Hospital is new.
"Dentists used the Gympie Hospital for this type of work more than 10 years ago.
"Of course they have to work around what's going on at the hospital but I've is been told that there is plenty of capacity.
"This policy looks like sheer bloody mindedness.
"And considering this has come to light very soon after the closure of the Gympie Private Hospital this makes the Government's assurances sound a bit hollow,” he said.