Funding for dentistry programmes in the town of Knox in the State of Victoria, Australia was cut recently, which has had a pretty devastating effect on dental provision, particularly a shortage of dentists. While Victoria has been hard hit generally, it seems Knox has been hit hardest.
The findings were revealed a recent report, which found that for the past 2 and half years, a third of the residents of Victoria had little or no access to a dentist, with all the dental health problems that obviously incurs.
By contrast the same report also found that the number of patients wanting to see a dentist went up between 2005 and 2010. But unless funding increases dramatically the waiting lists will only get longer.
This increase in funding is exactly what the Australian Dental Association has been urging the Victoria State Government to do. A spokesperson for the local health department, Karyn McPeake told reporters: “Our concern is in the long term … as our population ages, and more people are eligible for a healthcare card, there will be more demand for the public dental service.”
Funding itself for Knox residents dropped from AU$2.3 million to AU$2.2 million last year. Not a seemingly large amount, but it has had a very big effect, as it directly affected the provision of after hours service. This is important, as it has to be remembered that working people generally cannot visit their dentist till after work.
Knox was also affected last year because although money was supposedly allocated to increase the number of dental chairs in the town in order to cut waiting lists, most of the money was reallocated to other areas this year.
Some commentators are perplexed why Australia could be storing up a crisis in dentistry. While the world economic situation is poor, Australia is one nation that on the surface appears to be holding its own.