Health Minister Tanya Plibersek in her office at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
An extra 170 people have been removed from ACT public dental waiting lists thanks to a $5.5 million funding boost, the federal and territory governments say.
The ACT received $5.5 million after becoming the first jurisdiction to sign up to a Commonwealth dental funding partnership promised in the 2012-13 budget.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the funding had already resulted in more patients being treated.
“I believe they've taken 80 off the general waiting list and 90 off the dentures waiting list. That's terrific work," Ms Plibersek said.
Chief Minster and Health Minister Katy Gallagher said all ACT public dental patients requiring emergency treatment were seen within 24 hours, but patients requiring restorative treatment could face a 12-month wait.
“Even though we've got the best waiting times in the country that still means a 12-month wait for non-urgent dental work and so we know the demand's there. This is about trying to increase our capacity, focus on the workforce – make sure that we're training and skilling the workforce and making sure we can see more people," Ms Gallagher said.
Ms Gallagher said some public dental work was being outsourced to the private sector.
“That's really about the capacity in the public system … you can't just magic staff and spaces out of nowhere, you've got to use what your capacity is, and that includes the private system. There's many private dentists wanting to do this work as well," she said.
Ms Plibersek praised the ACT's public dental scheme.
“There's been years of investment in public dental here. It's well-managed, there's a very strong commitment to public dental services and it's something that the ACT should be proud of," Ms Plibersek said.