Labor vows to improve dental access

By Benalla Ensign

A new dental plan for pensioners, which Labor will implement if elected, has been welcomed by their candidate for Indi, Eric Kerr.

‘‘Public dentistry is a huge issue locally,’’ Mr Kerr said.

‘‘It’s meant to be available for all health care holders, which includes the 21 per cent of people in the electorate on the pension.

‘‘In reality, the waiting lists are so long that few people can access the public dentist.’’

The current waiting list at Wangaratta’s public dental service is two and a half years.

‘‘This is obviously a concern,’’ Mr Kerr said.

‘‘Dentists recommend you have your teeth checked every six months for a reason.

‘‘Waiting five times as long means that people go too long without treatment.

‘‘Even worse, if you need emergency dental treatment, in some cases you have to wait for a cancelled appointment to be seen.

‘‘For someone in pain, this isn’t possible, yet a visit to a private dentist can cost more than a week’s income for these patients.

‘‘Labor’s policy works in two ways — it allows pensioners to have up to $1000 of treatment every two years and it takes those pensioners off the waiting list for public dentistry, which reduces the waiting time for other health care holders.

‘‘It’s a win-win for those on the public dental waiting list.’’