The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), as well as five other national organisations, has welcomed the House of Representatives' report on a recent inquiry into adult dental services.
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The House of Representatives' inquiry into adult dental services was part of the federal government's Dental Care Reform Package, which from the beginning of July 2014 will see state and territory governments receiving extra funding to expand and improve their public dental systems.
Its purpose was to discover which areas of the system would most benefit from additional funding. The areas that were looked into included:
• Supply versus demand when it comes to services, and the issues associated with waiting lists;
• The range of dental services supported by local governments;
• The accessibility and price of dental services for people living in different areas and those with specific dental health needs;
• How public and privately funded dental services (i.e. those requiring private health insurance) complement each other;
• Dental services and the workforce.
A report has been written on the House of Representatives' findings, which includes recommendations as to how funding should be allocated among Australia's states and territories.
"Implementation of the report’s recommendations will support major improvements in access to dental services, particularly for those most in need of care," said Andrew McAuliffe, AHHA's acting chief executive chair.
One of the recommendations made in the report is that the link between public, private and not-for-profit dental service providers be improved.
It is believed that this will increase the accessibility of dental care to high-priority population groups, such as low-income earners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those living in remote areas and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
Mr McAuliffe is also pleased that the report indicates short-term funding packages will not solve ongoing issues in the public dental system. It instead recommends that some form of long-term strategy is drafted and implemented.
"This approach is essential to ensure improved oral health for all Australians," Mr McAuliffe said.
Finally, the report states that preventative dental care is vital and incentives should be put in place to get people seeking treatment earlier. A National Oral Health Promotion Plan is currently being developed to that end.