Den­tal wait times blow out in prison

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Tim Ed­munds

Pris­on­ers con­tinue to com­plain about the lack of den­tal care at Al­bany Re­gional Prison with a back­log of pris­on­ers re­quir­ing a den­tist reach­ing 90 this year.

A re­port by the In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices re­leased in Au­gust iden­ti­fied pris­on­ers were “dis­sat­is­fied” with the state of den­tal care in Al­bany Re­gional Prison.

The in­spec­tion of the prison in Fe­bru­ary dis­cov­ered nurses were be­ing forced to treat den­tal is­sues with an­tibi­otics and painkillers due to the wait list.

“Pris­on­ers said that by the time their ap­point­ment came around the in­fected tooth had de­te­ri­o­rated so much that all the den­tist could do was ex­tract the tooth,” act­ing In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices An­drew Har­vey said in the re­port.

Greens spokesper­son for Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices Ali­son Xa­mon said the State Gov­ern­ment must ad­dress the is­sue of in­ad­e­quate den­tal care not only in Al­bany Re­gional Prison but across all pris­ons.

Ms Xa­mon said long wait­ing lists and high rates of pris­oner com- plaints had been a con­sis­tent theme of Of­fice of the In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices re­ports since the of­fice’s es­tab­lish­ment in 2006.

“At the time of re­port­ing, the den­tist had only just cleared the wait­ing list from 2016,” she said in Par­lia­ment last week.

“That gives an idea of how far be­hind we are.”

The Of­fice of the In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices’ an­nual re­port, re­leased last week, warned pris­ons may not be in­spected with the same rigour and depth and be un­able to re­view some high-risk ser­vices if there were fur­ther bud­get cuts.

A De­part­ment of Jus­tice spokes­woman said there were cur­rently 82 pris­on­ers on the den­tal wait­ing list with the aim of re­cruit­ing a den­tist for a sec­ond den­tal list.

“Re­cruit­ment ear­lier this year was un­suc­cess­ful and the den­tal ser­vice is cur­rently in the process of im­ple­ment­ing a fur­ther round of re­cruit­ment,” she said.

“In the event of ur­gent pa­tient den­tal is­sues aris­ing, such as a need for pain man­age­ment, the prison GP ad­dresses this and if nec­es­sary, the pa­tient is repri­ori­tised on the den­tal list.”

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