News State Victoria News Public dental wait lists in Victoria blow out

Public dental wait lists in Victoria blow out

public dentist wait list victoria
The average wait for a general appointment with a public dentist in Victoria is 20.5 months. Photo: Getty
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Scoring a general appointment with a public dentist will take 20.5 months in Victoria, and both sides are blaming the other for ballooning wait lists.

The Liberal opposition relied on the numbers to argue the state government was failing to keep up with demand.

Labor, meanwhile, said the federal government had cut dental funding by 30 per cent, and Victoria is not the only state overcome by growing waiting lists.

The average general public dental appointment wait was 20.5 months in the 12 months to the end of May in Victoria.

It was a shocking 36 months at Sunbury Community Health, and 32 months at Merri Health in Brunswick.

For standard denture care the average wait was 17.1 months, or up to 39 months at Maryborough and 35.5 months at Ehuca.

Priority denture care required an average 10-week wait.

There were more than 152,000 people waiting for treatment at the end of May, according to the figures obtained by the opposition under freedom of information laws.

Labor MPs have been using local data to show wait times within their electorates.

Shadow Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said wait lists had grown from an average of 11 months for general dental four years ago.

“As we start Dental Health Week, Daniel Andrews needs to stop blaming everyone else and instead step up and take responsibility for the dental health of Victorians,” Ms Wooldridge said in a statement on Monday.

“The first step would be to increase transparency and publish waiting list numbers and times by clinic so the full extent of the dental challenges are available for all to assess.”

Health Minister Jill Hennessy announced a $12.1 million funding blitz to cut into the wait lists in May and mitigate a loss from federal funding.

“We’re taking action to drive down dental care waiting lists right around the state, to ensure people can get the oral treatment they need, faster,” Ms Hennessy said in a statement to The New Daily on Monday.

“Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals’ cuts have left our dental system in decay – and that’s left people waiting too long for important treatment or missing out altogether.”

Dental conditions are the top cause of avoidable hospital admission for kids under 10, and the third highest for all age groups.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said states and territories were primarily responsible for dental health, but the Turnbull government was supporting them with $242.5 million over 18 months to June 30 next year.

“As Victorian FOI documents show, the Andrews government has failed to properly manage dental waiting times.”

Mr Hunt said all health ministers agreed to work together on a new dental partnership at the COAG meeting last week.

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