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21st January 2003
Minutes of Corporate and Regulatory Services Committee held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane on Tuesday, 21st January 2003 at 7.30 p.m.
Chairperson: Councillor A Bresland Other Members: Councillors I Barr, A Bell, D Breslin, J Donnell, J Emery, D Hussey, T Kerrigan, E McGarvey, C McGill, B McMahon, E McMenamin, B McNamee Total: 13 Apology: Councillor T McBride In attendance: Clerk & Chief Executive Head of Finance Human Resources Officer Chief Environmental Health Officer Chief Building Control Officer Administrative Assistant Ms Judi McGaffin, Director of Dental Health, WHSSB
Presentation by Judi McGaffin, Director of Dental Health - Oral Health Strategy
Ms McGaffin began by saying that dental decay was a common, painful and costly disease both to the individual and society. She said improvements in diet, particularly children’s diet, would lead to the reduction of dental decay and improvement in general health and well being.
Ms McGaffin outlined the Registration Target for 2003 i.e. the registration of 30% of 2 year olds and 68% of 3-5 year olds. She said local school screening had demonstrated a very high incident of decay especially amongst Primary 1 classes.
Ms McGaffin said a multidisciplinary approach with local evidence based methods was needed to:-
- promote health and well-being and target health and social need by tackling inequalities; - to contribute to planning and commissioning of services for local people.
Ms McGaffin said 15,000 dental care packs had been provided for children under 5 years. She said that Health Visitors, School Nurses, Sure Start and Life Start had been trained to assist in the delivery of the oral health message. She added that the registration campaign had been promoted by household mail drops, bus campaigns and Health Visitor voucher schemes.
In relation to dental trauma prevention, Ms McGaffin said custom-made mouth guards had been provided and training provided to PE teachers. Ms McGaffin said a fresh fruit to schools programme had commenced in November 2002, with 30 primary schools participating. She said of these, 6 were local primary school Primary 1 and 2 classes. In relation to fizzy drinks,Ms McGaffin said a programme was ongoing to target post primary school cafeterias and tuck shops. She said the installation of water dispensers was very much encouraged.
Miss McGaffin said the way forward was the re-visitation of the Oral Health Strategy for the Western Board; community development in collaboration with local co-ordinators; liaising with Sure Start; and PR media work.
Miss McGaffin then asked for Members’ views, ideas or questions.
Councillor McMahon asked if nursery schools were targeted for dental care programmes. Ms McGaffin confirmed they were, adding this was where an awareness of care began. She said brushing and healthy eating programmes was especially encouraged.
Councillor McMahon asked if Ms McGaffin was involved in the ‘Investing for Health Strategy’. In response Ms McGaffin said oral health was included within some strands of the strategy and she was more than happy to see it as part of a general health strategy.
Councillor McMahon said fresh fruit was distributed to Primary 1 and 2 classes and asked if this was to be extended to other classes. Ms McGaffin said that should funding become available she would certainly like to see the programme extended. She added that the free milk programme was another campaign she would like to see extended.
Councillor Bell said ‘slush puppies’ were now available in the intermediate school’s canteen. Ms McGaffin said these caused the erosion of tooth enamel, as did fizzy drinks and Alco pops. She said if bottled water was introduced to a school, the school might not be entirely happy because profits would be down.
Councillor Emery asked how it was planned to highlight oral health care to the elderly. In response Ms McGaffin said individuals would be visiting practices to promote the whole oral health message. Councillor McMenamin commented that it was crucial to educate the parents. He said he believed that dental charges were prohibitive and also that it was difficult obtaining an appointment. In response Ms McGaffin said she did not believe treatment was costly. She said if individuals attended the dentist regularly, then individual treatments would cost less. She added that there was a general recruitment problem in dentistry with graduates failing to return to the west of the province.
Councillor Donnell said fluoridation of the water would prove costly and the money would be better spent on distributing milk to schools. He said there could be side effects associated with adding fluoride to the water. In response Ms McGaffin said the Department of Health had conducted a cost-benefit analysis and fluoridation had been by far the cheapest method of improving oral health. She said from the studies conducted there was no known side effects, adding that the Republic of Ireland had been receiving fluoridated water for over 40 years. She said Northern Ireland had twice the level of tooth decay experienced in the Republic. She said the only negative effect of fluoridation was tiny white flakes on the teeth but the number of cases documented was extremely low. Councillor Donnell commented that similar comments had been made in relation to telephone masts. Ms McGaffin said research into fluoridation had been ongoing for over 60 years and was one of the more researched issues.
Councillor Donnell said the campaign to warn young children of the damage caused by fizzy drinks should be increased. Ms McGaffin said she had a budget of £70,000 - £80,000, which was relatively small in comparison to the major drinks companies’ advertising budgets. She said oral care should perhaps be sold as a cosmetic issue.
Councillor Barr said he was disappointed to hear that Strabane had a poor record for child registrations. He then asked if it was correct to say that if an individual was not registered, then they would be unable to obtain out of hours service. Ms McGaffin said Dentists had to respond within 24 hours. She said in the event of an emergency e.g. if there was trauma or swelling, the patient would be advised to attend Casualty, or in less severe cases, to take painkillers.
Councillor Barr said fluoridation had once been a very lively debating issue but was now rarely mentioned. Ms McGaffin said the issue was something that needed to be raised by Councillors representing their constituents, and Councils. Councillor Hussey said that the argument for fluoridation had not sat well with constituents. He then went on to ask:-
- how many dental students originated from Northern Ireland? - if fizzy drinks should carry a health warning? - if Ms McGaffin’s budget was sufficient and how it compared with the budgets received by other Districts?
In response Ms McGaffin said the present budget used for oral health promotion was received in lieu of fluoridation and was not nearly enough. She said oral health programmes had limited success whereas water fluoridation would target all. She agreed that fizzy drinks should carry a health warning. With regard to dental students, Ms McGaffin said the majority of Northern Irish students went to Dundee University and unfortunately few returned, although recently some had returned to Fermanagh. Payment of Accounts
Members considered the schedule of accounts for the month of January, a copy of which had been previously circulated to each Member.
Councillor McGill proposed, seconded by Councillor Barr, that item 9 – Summary of Bank Balances as at 31.12.02, and item 10 – Monthly Budget Statement for Period 8, as listed in the Addendum, be considered with the Payment of Accounts. This was agreed.
The Head of Finance answered queries in relation to the following accounts contained within the Schedule:-
Mr Patrick Kelly - £120.00
The Head of Finance confirmed this payment was made to a member of the public who had damaged a leather jacket on a fence at Riversdale Leisure Centre. Councillor Donnell asked if the amount could be claimed through the Council’s insurance. The Head of Finance said the excess payment was higher than £120.00 and therefore this amount could not be claimed.
Councillor Hussey declared an interest at item 36, Dergview Football Club.
Parkview Veterinary Group - £35.25
The Head of Finance confirmed this payment was made to Parkview Veterinary Group re examination of the reindeers used at Christmas. She said examination was required prior to transportation following the Foot & Mouth epidemic. Councillor Donnell asked if this should not be the responsibility of the owners. The Head of Finance said the owners had paid for the examination prior to the reindeer leaving Scotland and Council had to pay for the examination on return.
The Playhouse - £99.80
The Head of Finance said the description given was incorrect and should read materials in relation to the arts festival.
Following the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor Breslin, it was agreed to adopt the accounts schedule for January.
Following the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Bell, it was agreed to enter into Committee.
The meeting ended at 10.35 p.m.