Adult special needs patients in Cork are going without basic dental care because there is no facility to provide a general anaesthetic service, it has been reported.
Fine Gael Cork South Central TD Deirdre Clune said relatively minor dental treatment, such as fillings, can be traumatic for some adult special needs patients and can lead to high levels of anxiety.
In such cases, she said, a dentist will recommend treatment under general anaesthetic. However, there is currently no service in the Cork region to provide an anaesthetic to these patients.
Deputy Clune said the service had been available at Cork University Dental School but in January 2007 the school decided not to accept further referrals for such treatment.
According to Deputy Clune, this decision was taken without any alternative service being made available.
Yet the Department of Health has said theatre space is being sought in Cork University Hospital to continue to provide the dental anaesthetic service.
However, Deputy Clune said the situation arose 15 months ago and there is still no solution in sight.