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28 Sept 2022

Irish Dental Association warns that Public Dental Schemes are on verge of collapse

Dentist of the Year

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The Irish Dental Association calls for 5 key recommendations to be implemented in Budget 2023 warning that Public Dental Schemes are on the verge of collapse.

Recommendation 1

Among the recommendations, the Irish Dental Association has called for a National Workforce Strategy which would examine the current and future needs of the supply of dentists, dental nurses and dental hygienists.

Recommendation 2

The Irish Dental Association has called for a reformed medical card (DTSS) scheme which incorporates the input of dentists and meets the needs of patients. The Association presented an independently developed policy paper by Professor Ciaran O’Neill to the HSE and Department of Health offering a totally new scheme which includes modern practices and input from dental practitioners.

Recommendation 3

The Association is calling for a reform of the Dental Tax Relief scheme (Med 2) which would bring the tax relief to 40% (2009 level) up from 20% at present, and to include dentures in the scheme to reduce to burden of costs on patients.

Recommendation 4

The Association calls on the Government to invest in the HSE public dental service to sufficiently recruit and retain 400 wholetime-equivalent dentist posts, and to improve the pay and conditions of these posts to boost the recruitment and retention of public service dentists.

Recommendation 5

The Association calls for immediate and significant investment for the expansion of the UCC and TCD dental schools, to improve the capacity of those schools to produce dental graduates across dentists, dental nurses and dental hygienists.

Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the Irish Dental Association, said: “We have called on the Government to significantly invest in a root and branch reform of key areas of dentistry prevent the collapse of public dentistry wholesale and ensure access to dentalcare for all through Budget 2023.”

“Successive Governments have failed to adequately fund, and resource dentistry for decades leaving the most vulnerable patients without service and allowed the deterioration of oral healthcare to proliferate. We have called for significant investment to reverse the worsening situation in our oral health service and particularly across our public dental service.

“The Irish Dental Association launched a reformed scheme for the DTSS, which was independently developed by Professor Ciaran O’Neill, Professor of Health Economics in Queens University Belfast. We have shared the proposed new scheme with the Minister Donnelly and his officials, and we are awaiting keenly for the Department of Health to begin talks to implement a workable scheme that meets the needs of both patients and dentists.

“In light of the inflation crisis we are experiencing, we believe restoring the Dental Tax Relief to 40% from its current level of 20% would go a long way for patients struggling with the cost of living and accessing adequate care. Therefore, we are calling on the Government to amend the Med 2 in Budget 2023, to reduce the costs experienced by patients accessing dental care.

“We have also made known the labour supply crisis facing dentistry, heightened by no investment or expansion in our dental schools in UCC and TCD. At present, both schools only produce approximately 90 dentists per annum, with an average of 55 of those remaining in the Irish dental labour market. This is clearly not sufficient to meet population increases and replenish dental practices where dentists have retired.”

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