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Labour leader Alan Kelly says many people are being forced to travel long distances to get dental treatment to which they are entitled

He said the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) which provides access to treatment for medical card holders is ‘haemorrhaging dentists’

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Labour leader Alan Kelly

Labour leader Alan Kelly

Labour leader Alan Kelly

Over a quarter of private dentists have left the Government’s medical card scheme since 2016.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides access to dental treatment for medical card holders who are over 16, including a free examination once a year, two free fillings, one root canal and free extractions.

Latest figures from the HSE show that since 2016, 460 dentists have left the scheme, a decrease of 28pc.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately 252 dentists alone have withdrawn from the scheme.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said that the DTSS scheme is “haemorrhaging dentists”.

“This is leading to many people having to travel really long distances to get treatments they are entitled to. Yet, the government is doing nothing to encourage dentists to stay, to encourage equitable treatment for all who need it,” he said.

The Government vowed this week that under Budget 2022, there will be increased access to dental treatment for medical card holders.

Earlier this year, the Irish Dental Association warned the Oireachtas Health Committee that the scheme is “in crisis and on the brink of collapse”.

Total spending on the scheme fell from over €63m in 2017 to €40m in 2020.

Chief executive of the association Fintan Hourihan said the group was “astonished and gravely disappointed” earlier this week after a €45m budget was announced to increase affordability for medical and dental care, but he argued that there have not yet been plans as to how this funding will be rolled out.

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“The budget announced this week is meaningless for many in a state that is failing to deliver public services to those who need them,” added Deputy Kelly.

“The regional disparity with access to dental care is deeply unfair and it’s clear that the scheme is operating on a thread.”


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