Dental Treatment Support Scheme is not working - Violet-Anne Wynne TD
Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has criticised the lack of access to dentists for medical card holders.
Speaking out against the impossible situation of people, particularly in rural areas, to find a dentist if they are trying to avail of the Dental Treatment Support Scheme (DTSS), Teachta Wynne said:
“Following a growing number of calls to my office regarding dentists not seeing medical card holders, I have been investigating the situation here in Clare.
“It turns out that of 16 surgeries across the county, some with more than one practitioner, none of them could confirm that they were in a position to accept new medical card patients.
“This is madness. It exposes how health is still a two-tier system in this country and is not universally accessible.
“Especially during the pandemic, when people were not physically able to leave the county, this was a serious issue. Now that we can move freely across county borders, it does not mean we should have to just to access routine, primary health care.
“Around 250 dentists have opted out of the DTSS over the last year and there’s been a drop of 31% nationally over the past five-year period.
“This is having very negative repercussions for constituents whose issues range from having dental and gum diseases going untreated to being denied emergency dental treatment.
“The Irish Dental Association has reported that one-quarter of registered dentists withdrew from the scheme in 2020 alone.
“Government spending also decreased dramatically, by 30% from 2017 to 2020 - dropping from €5.5 to €3.8 million.
“Even throughout the pandemic, dentists were left to fork out for their own PPE, which just shows the lack of support, functionality and connection between health care practitioners and the Department of Health.
“This is part of the bigger picture of a totally crumbling health system and it is not good enough. We need change and we need it now.”