Strong Focus on Dentistry in Special Dail Debate but What Next?

Strong Focus on Dentistry in Special Dail Debate but What Next?

(23 May 2024)

Yesterday's (22nd May 2024) debate in the Dail on the Private Members' motion on dentistry from the Social Democrats featured contributions from over 20 TDs from all political parties and groupings. We wish to thank Deputy Roisin Shortall and the Social Democrats for proposing the motion and the many other deputies who contributed to the debate.

What is striking is that all the politicians are equally aware of the scale of the many problems being experienced for children and adults unable to access dental care and the risk to patient safety and their strong sense that Government has the means but so far not the will to solve these problems.

The response from Minister of State, Deputy Colm Burke, did little to assure the Dail that there was an acceptance of the reality and scale of the problems in Irish dentistry. Or that there was a sense of urgency or indeed a clear plan to address the staffing crisis in the public dental crisis, to begin talks with the IDA on a scheme to replace the DTSS or to legislate to address the urgent shortcomings in the dental legislation to protect patients from illegal dentistry and to ensure competence assurance by all dentists.

Regrettably, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, was not present for yesterday’s debate. His absence was not explained which angered many of the TDs and indeed the Ceann Comhairle. The motion was not opposed by the Government after two hours of debate, which will be seen before long as a very cynical gesture or the prelude to a transformation in its interest in oral health.

Click here to read a transcript of the debate.