CAB meets NIA Health Committee
1st May 2008
Citizens Advice today (Monday 28th April) met with the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee at Stormont. The meeting was arranged by the Committee to hear the experiences of interest groups on health related issues. At the meeting Citizens Advice provided compelling evidence on the increasing difficulty in accessing an NHS dentist in Northern Ireland and called for the phased abolition of prescription charges.
Derek Alcorn, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said,
“These meetings are extremely useful and provide a good opportunity to provide evidence on key health matters affecting the people of Northern Ireland. Citizens Advice is in a key position to measure the impact of the lack of NHS dental treatment and the cost to the individual on oral health. It is clear from the evidence we have received from clients that not only is there increasing difficulty accessing NHS treatment but people who have been registered find they are being charged by their dentist who has recently went private without consulting patients. In a recent survey of dental practices in Strabane 71% were not taking on new patients and of the remaining 29% only one offered NHS treatment.
If further funding is not made available for dentistry in Northern Ireland we will stumble inexorably towards privatisation of NHS dental care”.
“Much like the lack of access to dental treatment the cost of prescriptions has become a barrier to good health for many people just above the threshold for free medication. We call on the Assembly to consider following Wales and Scotland and move towards the phased abolition of prescription charges.”
Notes to Editors:
- Northern Ireland has some of the worst dental decay in the UK particularly in children.
- Many people do not realise that their registration with a dentist has to be renewed after 15 months so if they have not visited their dentist for some time they may no longer be on the list.
- CAB is the largest advice organisation in Northern Ireland providing information, advice and advocacy to over 279,000 people a year via a network of 28 offices and 120 other outlets. The agency has an integrated IT network linking all its offices to provide up to date electronic information to the public.
- The Citizens Advice service is an independent charity that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.