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Minus promises. Where are the dental offices in the schools that were supposed to be built?

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In 2015, Beata Szydło promised that if PiS won the elections, medical and dental offices would return to schools. These announcements burst like a soap bubble less than a year and a half after the election. I ended up buying a dental bus.

During the election campaign in 2015, politicians from the Law and Justice party – speaking about the poor condition of dental care for the youngest – cited alarming statistics on the spread of caries among children and adolescents. They scored the then ruling coalition of the Civic Platform and the Polish People’s Party for insufficient efforts to ensure the availability of benefits or prevention. One of PiS’s election promises was to bring back medical and dental offices to schools.

PiS’s diagnosis was confirmed by the 2018 report of the Supreme Audit Office for the period 2015-2017. The auditors assessed that the functioning model of preventive health care does not guarantee the availability of services – including to health prevention clinics. “The dispersion of health care for students, which is provided by various entities, as well as the lack of medical and dental care in the vast majority of schools, makes it impossible to provide comprehensive care for students” – said NIK.

Return of school dental offices ‘an extremely important task’

We will pay special attention to expanding the program of preventive care and dental care. Epidemiological studies show that about 90% of of 7-year-old children and a similar percentage of 12-year-old children have tooth decay. Such a state proves absolute disregard for children’s health. Hence, the return of school dental offices for children and adolescents will be an extremely important task.

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In short video presentji According to the PiS program published on February 15, 2014 on YouTube, it was emphasized that medical and dental offices are to be created in every school.

Material published on February 15, 2014 on the Law and Justice profile on YouTubeYouTube

In the campaign before the parliamentary elections, PiS politicians upheld this postulate. October 13, 2015 on TVP1, Beata Szydło, PiS’s candidate for prime minister, argued: “The problem of school medicine needs to be solved. The money is to be transferred from the state budget. The commune will provide premises and equipment.” When asked about the planned costs of the project, she did not answer specifically. She said it wouldn’t be big. She cited the example of the commune of Pcim, where dental offices financed by the commune functioned in schools. The mayor of Pcim was then Daniel Obajtek. “It costs about PLN 150,000 a year to maintain such an office, including equipment and maintenance” – said Szydło. She later confirmed her election declarations in her expose.

As we have announced many times, we will implement the program of creating dental and medical offices in schools.

Implementation status: NOT REALIZED

Spring 2017. Offices in schools? There is simply no money

After the elections, the Ministry of Health began work on the Act on the Health of School-aged Children and Youth. The experts started counting. April 19, 2017 at the meeting Parliamentary Team for Nurses and Midwives Wanda Szelachowska from the Department of Mother and Child of the Ministry of Health reported that the cost of establishing and equipping dental surgeries in schools was estimated at around PLN 7 billion. No subsequent operating costs. “There were proposals to bring the doctor and dentist back to school. Assumptions [do ustawy] they assume that where local needs and conditions allow it, it will be possible. However, we do not generally accept the principle that there is a doctor in every school and a dentist in every school for two very prosaic reasons: staffing reasons and also financial reasons” – explained Szelachowska.

Autumn 2017. Work not on the creation of new offices, but on “improving accessibility”

In the following months, MP Joanna Mucha asked about the progress of work on the act and the implementation of pre-election promises regarding the creation of dental surgeries in schools. On June 1, 2017, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, Józefa Szczurek-Żelazko, in response to her parliamentary question informed about the “preliminary phase” of work on the act and the lack of clear decisions.

On November 28, 2017, Minister Józefa Szczurek-Żelazko, again in response to an interpellation by MP Mucha, wrote about further work on the project. “An element of the proposed solutions is to improve the accessibility of students to dental services in offices located in schools, and if there is no office at school, in offices cooperating with the school and in mobile offices (dentobuses)” – we read in the reply. Minister Szczurek-Żelazko also mentioned the planned retrofitting of dental surgeries in some schools. In December 2017, the Ministry of Health announced the purchase 16 dental buses.

Draft assumptions for the draft act on the health of children and adolescents of school age reached the stage public consultation. The last comments made in the consultation date from January 2018.

Dental office at the primary school in Boguchwałe, Podkarpackie Province, photo from June 2017Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

Act of 2019. Dental offices are to be organized by local governments. Not necessarily in schools

The work on the act on health care for students went a little more smoothly. One of its assumptions was to provide each child with preventive health care and dental care at school. Design was sent for arrangements already in April 2018. The Sejm passed the act on April 12, 2019, and the president signed it on May 27, 2019. Pursuant to the new law, which entered into force on September 12, 2019, the school principal and school authorities were obliged to organize health and dental care for students. However, the Act did not oblige the establishment of school surgeries – a school nurse or hygienist and a dentist may provide services either at school or in an out-of-school clinic. Also in the dentist bus.

“We subsidize the equipment of dental offices. The school and the local government that runs a given school should simply find this office. And of course they contract with dentists from the National Health Fund” – spoke on Polish Radio in September 2019 the then Minister of Health Łukasz Szumowski.

But doctors and local government officials spread their hands. “The contracting rules are completely unclear. We don’t know what it looks like at the moment. Doctors are looking at it” – he said, quoted in “Polska i swiat” on TVN24 Dariusz Paluszek, vice-president of the District Medical Chamber in Warsaw for dentists. “The act imposes additional obligations on local governments, but does not specify the sources of their financing, which is why these regulations will be dead” – this is how he commented on this case for the website in August 2019 Law.pl Marek Wójcik from the Association of Polish Cities.

And – as the data quoted below show – he was rather right. Since the program of creating doctor’s and dentist’s offices in schools has not been implemented (the purchase of dental buses can hardly be considered such), we consider this PiS promise as unfulfilled.

March 30, 2023 | Facts in the afternoon. The government does not spend 6 percent. GDP for health careMartyna Olkowicz/TVN24

Student health care in numbers

According to NIK, in 2015, 4.8 million school-age children and youth were looked after by 7.1 thousand. school nurses or hygienists. In turn, from the data published in November 2022 by the service RynekZdrowia.pl results4.2 million children and youth were looked after by 8,000 nurses or hygienists.

On June 1, 2017, in response to a parliamentary question, Deputy Minister of Health Józefa Szczurek-Żelazko informed that there are 664 dental surgeries in schools all over Poland. “[Liczba] has not decreased compared to 2015.

On November 28, 2017, in response to a parliamentary interpellation by Joanna Mucha from the Civic Platform party, Szczurek-Żelazko she wrotethat there are 675 such offices.

In August 2020, also in response to a parliamentary question, Deputy Minister of Health Waldemar Kraska informedthat in 2018, 41 dental surgeries were opened in schools.

On April 4, 2023, when asked by Konkret24 about the current number of dental surgeries in schools, the spokesman for the National Health Fund replied that at the end of December 2022 there were 721 dental offices in schools. Let us recall: there are over 14,000 public primary schools and general secondary schools in Poland alone.

Minus promises.  Piotr Jaźwiński talks about how PiS announced "listening to citizens"

Minus promises. Piotr Jaźwiński talks about how PiS announced “listening to citizens”TVN24

How the series “Promises minus” was created

The Konkret 24 team collected and verified the promises of the United Right camp, which at the end of the second term of office remain unfulfilled. We started looking for promises at the beginning of 2015 – it was then, along with the accelerating presidential campaign of Andrzej Duda, that the march of the right wing for power began. We reviewed the promises from two presidential campaigns, two parliamentary campaigns, local government elections and elections to the European Parliament – because it is before the elections that politicians usually promise a lot. We checked whether, in the period between the elections, the announcements made publicly by the rulers materialized. This is how a collection of dozens of promises was created, which the United Right made in recent years, but “did not deliver”. We will publish the next parts of the series on the website Konkret24.tvn24.pl and on the main page of Tvn24.pl.

The list is open – we check the speeches of the president, PiS politicians, Solidarna Polska and the Republican Party on an ongoing basis. We encourage readers to contact us and submit proposals for verification. This can be done both via the form on the website and by e-mail to konkret24@tvn.pl.

Author:Krzysztof Jablonowski

Main photo source: Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

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