Ballymahon parents slam HSE's closure of Dental Service

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

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The HSE has come under fire over the closure of a dental service in Ballymahon

A petition has been set up in an effort to get the HSE to re-evaluate the need for Ballymahon Dental Service, following its decision to close the service from October 1 last.

The petition has so far gained more than 200 signatures from concerned parents and residents in the Ballymahon area.

The Ballymahon Dental Service has been available to school children in the town and surrounding areas for the best part of 50 years, and the Parents' Association of St Matthew's National School in Ballymahon is eager to get the HSE to reverse its decision.

“The HSE's decision will cause major disruption to parents and students alike who will now have to travel the journey to Longford town to avail of this service,” explained Susan Lee Nolan, Co Chairperson of St Matthews NS Parents' Association.

“Parents will have to find extra time from their already busy days to bring their child to a basic appointment. The student will now in turn quite possibly lose a whole day from school to attend.

“Families who rely on public transport will be at a serious disadvantage trying to get to Longford town as there are only two buses per day.

“As St Matthews NS is a designated Deis school, the Parents Association must express our concern for those parents who now face unreasonable financial burdens with having to avail of the service in Longford town.

“When these circumstances are taken into consideration, we worry that the children may not be able to avail of the service at all,” she added.

A meeting was held on Tuesday October 3 last, attended by HSE representatives and members of the school board for St Matthews NS.

At the meeting, the HSE outlined its reaons for the closure of Ballymahon Dental Service, stating that they felt the removal of the service was required because of issues with infection control, equipment and staffing levels.

“According to the census figures of 2016, the population of Ballymahon has doubled in the last decade. It is also due to increase even further with the opening of Center Parcs in the very near future,” Ms Lee Nolan explained.

“With that in mind, the decision may seem reasonable in relation to the HSE’s internal workings; when the overall effect on this expanding community as a whole is taken into account we felt that it was reasonable to request that this decision be re-evaluated.”

To sign the petition, you can visit www.change.org and search for 'Ballymahon & surrounding areas against the closure of the HSE Dental Service, Ballymahon'.

There is also a physical petition, which can be signed at St Matthew's National School.

This petition will be sent to Minister for Health Simon Harris, and the HSE's Michael Mulcahy and Joseph Ruane.