The Irish Dental Association (IDA) today met with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, for a constructive engagement, following serious concerns voiced by the Association over the impact that Covid-19 has had on the profession.
A further meeting is to take place next week.
The core objectives for the IDA in this meeting were to highlight three main issues:
To explain the scale of the current crisis and the need for a financial assistance package from the State for dentists;
The lack of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being made available to dentists; and Access to the HSE’s emergency dental centres.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr. Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the IDA, said it was welcome that the Government was finally taking the matter seriously, but that members now needed to see a comprehensive response. “For weeks, the IDA has voiced its serious concerns to the Government over the state of dentistry in Ireland during the Covid-19 crisis, so we welcome this engagement with Minister Harris. Dentists will be keen to now see a comprehensive response from the Government.”
Mr. Hourihan said that the IDA emphasised the state of crisis in dentistry at present and stressed that dentists needed to be able to plan for the future with some certainty. “We made clear to the Minister that the dental profession cannot deal with Covid-19 on its own and urgently needs assistance from the State, otherwise we will see the collapse of the two State dental schemes.
“The dental profession needs a special kickstart package of financial aid as well as support in obtaining adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure its very survival, such is the impact that the pandemic has had. It is also vital that all patients are afforded access to the HSE’s emergency dental centres. Oral health has a huge impact on a person’s overall health, and we cannot have a situation whereby numerous dental practices permanently close, meaning dental services are unattainable for many people.”
In a survey of 329 private dentists around Ireland published this week:
- 87% say they are unlikely or very unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels of service
- Nearly 80% report a high or very high risk to the sustainability of their practice
- 93% predict a drop in income of at least 40% in medium to long term with over 50% predicting income drop of over 80%
- 67% can only maintain the viability of their practice for a maximum of three months
- 86% believe there is a need for access to emergency centres for all patients
- 86% of practices have laid off staff
According to the survey, of the practices that had applied for the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, nearly a third (29%) had been rejected, while 71% of practices which had applied for other financial support packages from the State had been unsuccessful.
The IDA is the representative body for 2,000 dentists (public and private) practising in Ireland.