Dentists Braced For Waiting List Increases In Australia

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Dentists in Australia are preparing for waiting lists to increase as the closure of the Chronic Dental Disease Scheme looms.

From next Friday, Medicare cover will not be available for patients covered by the CDDS, which began in 1986; the scheme provided patients with chronic health conditions with up to $4250 of private dental treatment over a two year period.

Redland Dental Clinic is one of those braced for a waiting list blowout; federal MP for Bowman, Andrew Laming, said that the closure of the scheme would undoubtedly add to problems with waiting lists at the clinic. Currently, only eleven per cent of patients are treated within target time frames and this is likely to get worse, as pressure on existing public dental services increases. Mr Laming said that there were 1647 general care patients who did not receive treatment within the recommended time frame in October.

Mr Laming added that only 24 patients were taken off the waiting list and with the CDDS planned to cease next week, the waiting list will undoubtedly increase in size, as most patients previously covered by the scheme will be unable to afford private dental care.

Mr Laming said that patients who were seeking routine care would face a wait of between 2 and 5 years and only those who had severe dental problems and those suffering in agony as a result of dental conditions would be seen urgently.

Dr Elizabeth Holder, executive director of Metro South Oral Health Service, said that waiting lists for non-urgent care were long, but emergency care at the Redland clinic would not be affected by the closure of the CDDS.

Stephen Liu, a dentist from Berkdale, said that the closure of the scheme was worrying news for patients with chronic health problems who cannot afford private dental cover; he said that pensioners will be forced to choose between paying private fees and joining lengthy waiting lists.


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