This year we have reduced the average waiting time for a public general dental appointment by more than two months. Whilst we know there can still be long waiting lists for public dental services – we’re proud of the progress we are making.
We are also steadily providing care to more clients, which means we are making public dental services more easily available and accessible to the community.
Across Victoria the average waiting time for dental care is two years and at the start of this year our service was consistent with the state-wide average, at 25.8 months.
Our goal this year was to sustainably increase the capacity of the oral health program to provide increased services to our community. We have now reduced the number of adults waiting for routine dental care by over 19 percent. That’s over 800 fewer clients waiting for care. The longest wait time for general dental care is 23 months, and we are working to reduce this further.
So how have we done this?
We implemented a range of initiatives to do so. Importantly, spending more time educating and supporting clients to ensure improved longer-term oral health. We recommend that everyone attends our oral health education clinic at least once during their dental care with us; and offer introductory oral health appointments for adults and families.
We now run the clinic three days a week (previously only once a week). We have also produced oral health information brochures to support client care. We have more Oral Health Therapists undertaking dental check-ups, x-rays, teeth cleaning and routine fillings (and referring to a dentist if more complex care is needed) to ensure we can see as many clients as possible.
We use a team based model, so clients may see two or more oral health professionals throughout their care. This makes best use of staff members’ skills and experience and helps us provide timely and appropriate care to clients. This means that clients get the best care and treatment for what they need – and we can see more clients.
We started rolling out this approach in late 2018 and in just eight months have seen significant progress. The reduction and improved management of waiting lists means we can reach more people in the community and ensure that where needed, clients at high-risk can still access care in a timely manner.