Oral health therapists rue missed opportunities in federal budget

ADOHTA want to end medical dental divideThe Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association (ADOHTA) national president, Mr Tan Nguyen, says ADOHTA is underwhelmed with the 2017/18 federal budget announcements.

“Whilst many within the health sector commend some of the budget decisions, such as the lifting the Medicare rebate freeze, our organisation feels that a strong commitment to preventative oral health and workforce monitoring and research within our sector has fallen by the wayside.”

Mr Nguyen says the lack of focus on preventative health measures in the area of oral health and the lack of commitment from the Federal government to investigate the cost-effective delivery of dental services is a concern.

“For a long time now cost-effective delivery of oral health care and preventive services has been a challenge in the Australian health system. Many Australians, especially those who are disadvantaged, are unable to access timely and affordable dental care.”

Mr Nguyen says that cuts to oral health come as no surprise.

“We were aware of the Governments approach to adult public dental services in late 2016, so the cut from $155 million in calendar year 2016 down to $128 million in calendar year 2017 comes as no surprise.”

“However, whilst this cut effects equity in dental care by not restoring funding previously agreed under the National Partnership Agreement for public dental services to adults, we were hopeful to see more of a commitment to addressing workforce issues within our sector.”

“ADOHTA has long been advocating for workforce reform in the oral health services sector and believes its memberships’ contribution to improving public oral health can fill a number of gaps in unmet need within the community.”

“We will continue to consult and discuss with governments at the federal and state levels to push for greater recognition of our profession and the need for a true representation of work provided by our profession in both public and private dental practices.”

Mr Nguyen says that the solution could be found in broader consultations within the oral health sector.

“We need to ensure we have a seat at the table. If the Government is serious about a preventative health focus, in terms of the health system as whole, then our profession must be included in discussions.”

“Our organisation can assist in providing cost-effective solutions to service delivery issues occurring on the ground, throughout Australia. We encourage governments at both the federal and state levels to engage with us and our academic experts who understand the public dental health system, not just the Australian Dental Association.”

“Australian has invested in building the capacity of oral health practitioners by advancing their training and education The profession has provided high quality dental services to the community for over 50 years.”

“We believe that oral health practitioners can be supported to work in ways that make a greater contribution to improving the oral and general health of Australians, both in our cities and in rural and regional areas.”

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