The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has criticised the Department of Health for failing to honour commitments given 12 weeks ago to supply PPE equipment for dentists. The commitment was given by the former Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, at a meeting with the IDA which took place on Friday 8th May last.
The IDA is seeking an urgent meeting with the new Minister for Health to address this and other issues.
The IDA has also warned that increasing numbers of dentists are serving notice of their intention to resign from the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) which provides dental care for Medical Card holders.
Speaking today Dr. Anne O Neill, President-elect of the IDA said: “Patients and their oral health are being directly impacted by the continuing fall-out from the Covid 19 crisis.”
Dr. O’Neill highlighted 3 problems impacting patient care.
- It is harder for patients to get appointments as dentists have had to reduce the number of patients they see each day by up to a third.
- Costs for patients and dentists alike are increasing as dentists face increased costs for PPE and additional Covid related processes like enhanced environmental cleaning.
- Medical card patients are finding it more difficult to find a dentist who still provides care to Medical Card patients via the DTSS.
Dr. O Neill said that the IDA was particularly disappointed that the Department has failed to honour the commitment given 12 weeks ago to supply PPE to dentists; “The former Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, explicitly agreed to supply PPE to dentists when the IDA met with him on Friday 8th May. However that promise has not yet been honoured, no alternative support for the additional Covid related processes have been put forward by the Department and the new Minister has yet to meet with the IDA to hear our concerns about the impact of the crisis on patients seeking dental care.”
Dr. O Neill also warned that dentists were serving notice to resign from the DTSS: “The DTSS is not fit for purpose. The original contract was a collaboration between the Department, IDA and the Health services to provide basic dental care to medical card holders. The current version of the contract is under resourced, restrictive to the point that patients can’t access the care they need and, as currently structured, it supports the extraction of teeth rather than their retention. Individual dentists are serving notice to resign from the scheme which will mean that patients will have to travel further and wait longer for dental care.