Action needed on dental services crisis – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, has expressed concern that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in near collapse of an already ailing dental service provision.
Deputy Carthy has said that he has been contacted by dentists who are withdrawing from the scheme in record number, themselves expressing concerns as waiting lists for dental and orthodontic treatment soar.
“Dental services in the state are at crisis point, with more than 33% of dentists leaving the medical card dental scheme in the last five years.
“The Dental Services Scheme had 1,847 dentists signed up in 2015, but now there are just 1,247.
“The fall in dental care expenditure from a peak of €60 million to just over €40 million exemplifies the crisis.
“In particular, I am concerned at the growing waiting lists for school-aged children. Without a clear action plan to clear the backlog built up in the last year, we stand the risk of this becoming a permanent fixture.
“Lower-income groups, especially those who depend on medical cards, bear a disproportionate share of the burden. Delayed treatment is care withheld, and over time this results in net greater cost to the exchequer.
“In the short term, the Minister of Health must address issues with the DTSS system while pushing forward with a new scheme that prioritises prevention and access to care.
“We will need a substantial increase in public dental capability, with more dentists and orthodontists working for the government.
“If we want to improve treatment and shorten wait times, we need to change from the ground up.
“Over the past year I have dealt with a number dentists incredibly concerned as to promises not being delivered when it came to matters such as the provision of PPE.
“Dentists, as front-line medical professionals have been the fore for the last year, and the Department must go some way towards repaying the good will it has squandered with them”.