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Health Minister Harney has done nothing to address dental service collapse

12 August, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the news that 140 dentists have withdrawn from the medical card scheme, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said Health Minister Harney had done nothing to address the disintegration of the dental services scheme which has been ongoing for several years.

The Sinn Féin Dáil leader said:

"The withdrawal of 140 members of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) from the free treatment scheme for medical card holders is a further blow to our hard-pressed health services. It is made all the worse by the fact that Health Minister Mary Harney has had years of warning that the collapse of this scheme was coming down the line.

"In March 2007 I stated that Health Minister Harney was presiding over a fiasco where unresolved issues between the dentists, the Department of Health and Children and the HSE had been allowed to fester for years. The HSE halted negotiations with the IDA on the review of the dental scheme on the basis of highly questionable legal advice - the same advice which saw the HSE pull out of talks with the Irish Pharmaceutical Union. The Minister has done nothing to resolve the impasse and now it is patients who are losing out.

"I call again for Minister Harney immediately to intervene to prevent the total collapse of this scheme and to ensure dental treatment for all medical card holders. Ultimately what is needed is dental treatment available to all locally as part of the long-promised primary care network which this Government has failed to deliver." ENDS

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