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Minister for Health must end delays and negotiate new dental scheme contract to guarantee services for public patients – David Cullinane TD

3 March, 2022 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health to stop delaying and negotiate a new dental services scheme contract with dentists, following a meeting with the Irish Dental Association.

Teachta Cullinane said that the collapse in the scheme from more than 1,600 active dentists in 2017 to approximately only 750 active dentists by the end of 2021, according to the Irish Dental Association, was avoidable and was caused by unreversed austerity measures.

He said that had the Government sat down with dentists sooner, addressed their pandemic concerns on PPE supplies, and fixed the fees in the dental contract, the collapse of the scheme could have been prevented.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The Dental Treatment scheme is collapsing, with more than half of dentists who were on the scheme 5 years ago having pulled out of the contract or stopped taking medical card patients.

“The Minister for Health must take this seriously and sit down with dentists to negotiate a new contract that opens up a range of preventative treatments which are currently not permitted.

“He must ensure that public patients can get access to dental treatment again.

“The Irish Dental Association believes there to be only 750 dentists active on the scheme, down from 1600 in 2017.

“This has been a long time coming – Sinn Féin have been raising the dissatisfaction of dentists with the contract for a number of years, as have dentists themselves.

“Government could and should have prevented this but failed to act.

“The current system is supervised negligence – you can only get 2 fillings, but as many extractions as you want.

“The new contract must open up treatment options, pay dentist fair fees for their work, and give dentists – like other healthcare professionals – a reason to trust the State again.”

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