Successive governments have removed €400m in dental supports from the general public since 2010
New figures show 1 in 4 attending dentist less often
“Current Government has failed to deliver on promises to revise cuts”
The current Government and the one which preceded it have removed €400m in dental support from the general public over the past four years according to the Irish Dental Association.
The CEO of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan told dentists attending a seminar in Mullingar that the cuts in tax relief, cuts to the PRSI scheme and cuts to the Medical Card scheme amounted to €100m per annum.
“The previous Government introduced the cuts while the current Government has sat on its hands and reneged on the promises it made to revise them. The end result is that €400m of dental supports have been taken from the Irish people and as a consequence the dental health of the nation is reaching crisis proportions” he said.
Mr Hourihan was addressing delegates at the HSE Dental Surgeons Group Annual Seminar.
“It’s essential that the HSE prioritises dental health and addresses the many shortcomings which exist in the system in its new Service Plan which has to be completed in the next three weeks” he said.
The IDA commissioned Behaviours and Attitudes to conduct a national survey of adult members of the general public to enquire if they were visiting the dentist more often, less often or about the same since 2010.
In total 23% of those polled said they have been attending the dentist less often. This equates to 760,000 adults. Amongst medical card holders the figure rises to 26%, which is equivalent to over 370,000 medical card holders.
Mr Hourihan said the figures provided shocking evidence of the impact of the severe restrictions to treatments covered by the Medical Card and PRSI schemes.
“We asked the Government to honour their promises by making a start in Budget 2014 to ensuring a gradual restoration of care and benefits under the two State funded schemes. In particular we highlighted the value of a voucher type system which would promote awareness of entitlements and attendance at the dentist.
Equally, we have a situation where dentists working in the public service and caring for children and special needs patients have seen staffing levels slashed, falling by almost 20% (net) between March 2009 and the end of 2012. This has caused an inevitable reduction in school screening programmes and means that a limited emergency only service is provided in many parts of the country.
We are also seeing unacceptable waiting lists emerge for special needs patients, amongst the most vulnerable patients our members care for. There must be recognition that extra dental staff are required urgently and this should be prioritised alongside the appointment of extra doctors, teachers and guards announced by Minister Howlin in yesterday’s Budget.
The Government cannot say they have not been warned about the oral health crisis which is unfolding in front of us. They have been warned repeatedly and still they refuse to act” Mr Hourihan concluded.
For Further Information
Contact Kieran Garry
01/6650455 or 087/2368366