Health Minister Jack Snelling is placing $5.7 million in federal funding at risk because of his refusal to sign a public dental service agreement.
The Federal Government has offered funding deals to all states to try to tackle critical issues in dental health, such as lengthy waiting lists.
“For example, waiting lists in Mt Gambier for basic dental care such as fillings are now approximately 36 months, and the Australian Dental Association has reported the general waiting list for fillings has increased by about 60 per cent,” said Shadow Health Minister Rob Lucas.
“All other states have signed funding deals with the Federal Government to gain access to increased funding to tackle lengthy public dental waiting lists.
“The Federal Government deal for South Australia involves an extra $5.7 million this year, $14 million next year and $9 million in 2014/15.
“However, the $5.7 million this year must actually be spent on delivery of services by 30 June so we are getting closer to the date when some or all of this money will be lost.
“The Federal Government has insisted that in any deal the State Government must not reduce state funding for public dental care to offset increased federal funding.
“However, the State Government has recently submitted an ‘implementation agreement’ to the Federal Government which does involve cuts to state funding, and on that basis the Federal Government has indicated it is not prepared to provide the increased $5.7 million.
“South Australian families suffering due to excessively long waiting lists will be very angry when they become aware Minister Snelling and the Weatherill Government are risking losing critically needed funding simply because they won’t maintain existing funding levels for public dental services.”