Waiting lists will be shortened this year for people requiring hospital admission for dental surgery, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says.
Additional funding this year will allow 900 more procedures for children and adults who require general anesthetic for dental surgery procedures, due to complex medical conditions or developmental disabilities.
“I have heard from parents whose sons and daughters are suffering for long periods in pain, in some cases without any understanding of what is happening to them,” Dix said. “This is something we need to address, and that is why we are taking action today.”
The increase in procedures is the largest increase ever in B.C., Dix said. Health ministry data show that an average of 15 per cent of people needing hospital surgery for dental problems waited more than 26 weeks.
Island Health had more than 20 per cent of patients waiting at least 26 weeks, followed by 14.8 per cent in Fraser health and 10.9 per cent in the Interior Health region.
The total number of hospital-based dental surgeries is funded to increase from 6,200 last fiscal year to 7,100 in 2018-19.
“Recognizing those with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, need more access for dental care that can better accommodate their physical needs is long overdue,” said Faith Bodnar, executive director of disability rights group Inclusion B.C.