Geelong’s public dental wait list shrinks

August 14, 2023 8:28 am in by
The public dental wait list in Geelong is well below the Victorian average (dentist Movidagrafica /Pixabay

The queue for public dental treatment has blown out to an average sixteen-months – and more than double that in some parts of the state – but the Geelong region is well and truly bucking the trend.

New data from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) reveals the average wait time for general dental care in public clinics in Victoria is now 16.9 months.

In the electorate of Polwarth, which covers the Colac and Corangamite local government areas as well as parts of the Greater Geelong, Golden Plains and Surf Coast LGAs, the public waiting list is now an agonizing 38.2 months, the highest in the state.

In its annual report the ADA says the public dental system is in crisis and more than 1.5 million Victorians are unable to access care.

It says while the Andrews government injected funds into the system to tackle record high waiting lists following the pandemic, the return to normal funding levels is again putting pressure on public dental care.

“Waiting times have increased slightly from 16.5 months in December to 16.9 months in June, with the number of people waiting for care increasing from 60,000 to nearly 72,000,” said ADA (Victorian Branch) President Dr Jonathan Teoh.

“Only 336,000 patients received care in the past 12 months – a fraction of the more than 2.5 million children and adults who are eligible to access public dental care.

“This also reflects the challenges that many public dental clinics are facing in recruiting and retaining staff. Without an adequate number of dentists in the system, treatment doesn’t happen.” Dr Teoh said.

But local clinics have reported a dramatic drop in the number of people awaiting treatment.

The average wait time in Geelong is just 2.9 months, down from 12.9 at the same time in 2022.

Bellarine Community Health is also significantly below the Victorian average. At 9.8 months, it is down from 22.9 months at this time last year.