An increasing number of residents in Western Australia are waiting longer to access dental services at public clinics, according to new figures.
The latest Health Performance report released by the state government found that there was a 5.8 per cent rise in the number of people waiting for dental clinic services between October and December 2011.
There are almost 25,000 people on waiting lists for the public service, according to the report.
The longer waiting times may also be discouraging patients from attending the clinics, with the report finding that visits to dental clinics decreased by 8.2 per cent compared to the previous year, down by 8,634 visitors.
WA residents may find the health service more accessible through private health insurance, with some policies helping to cover the costs of an examination – including diagnostic oral examinations and consultations – as well as preventive measures such as the removal of plaque.
Chief executive of the state's Australian Dental Association branch Dr Stuart Gairns believes the figures indicate a lack of government funding in the sector, also describing last week's $165 million announcement for dental services for those on low incomes as "pathetic".
"If they believe that is going to make any dent on waiting lists across Australia, they are ill-advised," Dr Gairns told Fairfax Media yesterday (February 21).