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Government must stop HSE plan to devastate dental services – Ó Caoláin

30 April, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has demanded that the Fianna Fáil/Green Government put a stop to plans by the Health Service Executive to cut most of the dental services provided to medical card holders.

The cuts are set out in a circular from the HSE (008/10, 26 April 2010) to dentists which states that the HSE will in future fund only limited ‘emergency’ dental procedures – without defining emergencies.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“This HSE Circular should be immediately withdrawn and the Fianna Fáil/Green Government should intervene to prevent the proposed savage cuts to dental treatment for medical card patients.

“If implemented the HSE plan would devastate dental services in this State. Over 1.6 million medical card holders would be denied essential treatments such as fillings, extractions, treatment of gum disease, dentures and denture repairs.

“Most procedures will only be allowed for medical card patients in cases of ‘clinical emergency’ but the HSE does not define what such an emergency is. Clearly the real criterion is financial not clinical and the HSE expects dentists to make decisions based not on the needs of the patients but on the budget of the HSE.

“In Budget 2010 the Fianna Fáil/Green Government slashed dental services for PRSI workers, even though those workers have paid for the services through their PRSI. Now medical card patients are to be targeted. This move will end up costing the public health system far more in the medium term and long term than it saves in 2010 as it will lead to deterioration in dental health, requiring more expensive treatment for many people in the future. This plan must be stopped.” ENDS

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