Roisin Shortall TD

Oral health has been completely neglected by the Minister since he took office

The Government is continuing to sleepwalk through a crisis in dental healthcare, according to Social Democrats health spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“Oral health has been completely neglected by the Minister for Health since he took office. At a time when the Minister should be trying to strike up a better relationship with the Irish Dental Association (IDA), we have learned that he isn’t even attending their annual conference this week.

“The figures emerging from the conference are deeply troubling. A survey of IDA members revealed that more than 50 per cent of patients must wait more than three months for specialist dental care, while 40 per cent experience a three-month wait for a non-emergency appointment.

“In addition, almost 60 per cent of members have reported recruitment difficulties in the past year when trying to hire dentists.

“Meanwhile, the public Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) is haemorrhaging dentists and is in need of immediate reform to stop it collapsing. Of the IDA members operating the scheme, 80 per cent say they can no longer take on new medical card patients.

“The funding provided for the DTSS in Budget 2023 didn’t even scratch the surface of what is required to tackle this looming crisis.

“This week, I tabled an amendment to the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2022 to provide for mandatory continuous professional development for dentists – something the industry has been calling on the Minister to do for years. However, the Government voted it down.

“This simple amendment would have raised standards and enhanced patient safety at no cost to the State. This is just another example of the Minister’s utter neglect of dentists and their patients.”

May 12, 2023

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