The Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (ADOHTA) has called the Commonwealth’s new ‘investment’ in dental funding full of “holes”.
The group have spoken out with marked concern that the new Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS) set to replace both the Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS) and the National Partnership Agreement may end up “causing more harm than good.”
ADOHTA president Hellene Platell said in statement that ADOHTA would of course welcome any “investment in dental care” but that the “industry have their concerns about the efficiency and effectiveness” of the new scheme.
“While the Commonwealth are spruiking these changes and the investment in dental care as a major win for healthcare consumers, early modelling of the funding mechanisms seem to represent a significant funding cut, not an increase, despite the rhetoric we are hearing from the Turnbull government.”
“Our organisation has been in close liaison with a number of other interested bodies and although the scheme Minister Ley announced declared the $415m in funding as an increase—it is actually 33 per cent less than the figure of $615m promised in last year’s Budget.”
Ms Platell and ADOHTA are calling for caution all round from both dental practitioners and patients.
“It is highly unlikely that demand for this new scheme can be met via the public sector, with current waiting lists amongst state and territory clinics ranging between nine months to three years.
“Add to this the massive gaps of unmet need in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, those who live in rural and remote settings and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and it is clear to see that the announcement is a gross miscalculation of funding to address these underserviced areas and consumer populations.”
Plans for the new scheme, says Platell, have failed to address concerns raised over previous dental health framework, which could mean the new scheme is unlikely to improve oral health care.
“Abandoning the Child Dental Benefits Schedule ignores advice from two recent reviews that reported it was running well and should be promoted more heavily.
“If the government was serious in its wishes to deliver dental care to a wider section of the community it must look for innovative ways to deliver schemes which focus on these sectors of the community.
“Many of these were recently identified in the National Oral Health Plan signed off on by all Australian Government Health Ministers.” Says Ms Platell.