Lawrence Springborg.
Lawrence Springborg. john mccutcheon

Private sector takes bite out of huge Qld dental wait list

QUEENSLAND'S dental waiting list has been cut in half and the long wait list slashed from 62,513 to 8,494 between February and December 2013, the state government says.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said in a statement on Monday that Queensland Health had issued 80,000 vouchers to give patients access to dental care they so desperately needed.

"In February last year, 56 per cent of people on waiting lists had waited more than two years for their general care.

By December 2013, the percentage was down to 14 per cent of the entire waiting list," Mr Springborg said.

"The former Labor Government left in excess of 100,000 Queenslanders on dental waiting lists, with more than 60,000 left to wait two years or more for treatment.

"This is just another example of Labor's absolute failure to manage the health care system and provide treatment for those who need it most.

"By making some simple changes, improving engagement with the private sector and through the hard work of Queensland Health's oral health staff, we have been able to achieve some great results.''

"As an example, 11,213 patients in Metro South had been waiting for more than two years for dental care in February last year, by December we had reduced that number to zero.

''The improvement in wait times has seen Queensland Health exceed the Commonwealth performance target, resulting in a $30 million payment.''

Mr Springborg said the funds would reimburse the Department of Health for the money it provided to hospital and health services to address dental waiting lists.

''This additional funding allowed hospital and health services to increase their use of the existing dental voucher scheme,'' he said.

"Vouchers were sent at the discretion of the hospital and health service, primarily to people who had been on public dental waiting lists for long periods, or to those requiring urgent dental care.'

''From July to December 2013, about 20 per cent of all public dental service activity was delivered privately, with the remainder provided by our public oral health staff.''

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