Jersey parents 'frustrated' over long waiting times for braces to be fitted

It took Laurie-Lee a year to be seen for her first braces appointment. Credit: ITV Channel

Jersey parents are sharing their frustrations over long wait times for braces to be fitted at the island's hospital.

Jersey's government contributes towards initial treatment for students leaving primary school through its Dental Fitness Scheme.

However, some are waiting months to receive an examination.

It has seen some parents resort to private treatment rather than wait any longer for hospital treatment.

Isola Ferreira paid for her son, Oliver, to get braces privately. Credit: ITV Channel

Oliver was 14 when he and his mum, Isola, first asked about braces, but they were told the wait at the hospital could be more than six years.

This would mean Oliver would have been 20 by the time he potentially started treatment so Isola paid for private care.

She said: "When you look at it he's had the braces in for almost two years, had teeth taken out and it's done.

"It's just crazy to think that he'd still be on the waiting list."

A recent Freedom of Information request did reveal some improvement, with the average waiting time for children needing a routine orthodontic appointment going down in the past three years.

However, as of 31 December 2023, 100 patients under 18 were waiting for an orthodontic appointment, a rise of 72 from the same time in 2022.

Government data from 2021 shows the average wait for non-clinical urgent child patients can be up to six years and ten months.

Currently, the longest wait from the date a patient was listed for treatment is two years and seven months.

Ally says that her daughter is waking up in pain as she waits for an appointment. Credit: ITV Channel

Ally says her daughter Laurie-Lee is in pain and sought treatment for her teeth. However, she has now waited eight months without an update.

She explained: "I've got friends who are as frustrated as I am.

"Yes, we're given this free dental service up to a certain age, but you're fighting for it and when you do need it, you don't hear from them."

In response, Jersey's Health and Community Services said: "We are in the process of selecting orthodontic practices to support the current state-funded service for children and young people.

"This will help us tackle waiting times, which have been an issue for a number of years, exacerbated by the pandemic.

"The tender process has now closed and we are going through applications and will begin working with the external orthodontists over the next few months."