Push for dental service

Therese ColmanBusselton Dunsborough Times

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has called on the State Government to let paediatric dental specialists use Busselton Health Campus to save South West families costly trips to Bunbury and Perth.

The move could also cut excessive waiting lists caused by a single paediatric dental surgeon serving the region.

“We have a state-of-the-art facility, central to the South West region, with capacity to provide additional services for our children while a bureaucratic blockage from the department is leaving the facility under-utilised and a community need unmet,” Ms Mettam said.

“Since upgrades were completed at the Busselton Health Campus ... the only remaining barrier is access to the operating suites in regional hospitals.” Ms Mettam said South West children were waiting six weeks or more for surgery, and about two youth a week were transferred to Perth for emergency treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Dunsborough resident Evonne Patterson-Hill was out of pocket more than $1000 after travelling to Perth when her eldest son needed emergency surgery for an abscess.

“I had to drive to Perth at midnight because there was no help for me here,” she said.

Health Minister Roger Cook said Labor wasn’t to blame for the backlog and South West dental concerns were “not new”.

“The former Liberal-National government had eight years to address issues like these and failed to do so,” he said.

“Upon coming into Government, we have been working closely with a range of stakeholders to ensure the best patient outcomes can be achieved to complement the services the State Government already provides.”

The minister didn’t say what issues other than funding prevented Busselton’s use for paediatric dental surgery.

Bunbury’s specialist paediatric dentist Rod Jennings said establishing a Busselton primary care service would reduce or eliminate the need for expensive PMH admissions for preventable dental problems.

Dr Jennings said during the past three years he’d met with community health groups and Health Department bigwigs advocating for services in Busselton.

“In many meetings there has been agreement that there is a significant problem within the community that needs to be addressed,” he said.

“Establishing this service would facilitate primary care, and in turn help to reduce or eliminate the need for expensive admissions to PMH for preventable dental problems.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails