Roisin Shortall TD

The medical card scheme for dental treatments in Ireland is close to collapse, according to Social Democrats health spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“Figures reported today reveal there are 252 fewer dentists signed up to the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) compared to last year. There are also major disparities in the number of participating dentists depending on the county you live in, resulting in a completely unacceptable postcode lottery for those in need of treatment.

“The scheme is haemorrhaging dentists and requires immediate attention. Alarmingly, the number of dentists in the DTSS has dropping by almost 50 per cent in the past 10 years.

“The existing scheme is a relic of the past and flies in the face of best practice. Inexplicably, the DTSS restricts the number of preventative treatments allowed to save a tooth, such as fillings, but permits an unlimited number of extractions.

“Reform of dental services in Ireland has moved at snail pace. It is now five years since the national oral health policy, ‘Smile agus Sláinte’, was launched and we are still waiting on an implementation plan.

“Last month, the Social Democrats brought forward a Dáil motion calling on the Government to deal with the deepening crisis in public dentistry. We are seeking a commitment to provide funding in Budget 2025 to put the medical card scheme on a sustainable footing and for the Minister for Health to immediately begin engagement with the sector to reform the DTSS.

“Reform of the Dentists Act – which is almost 40 years old and hopelessly out of date – must also be prioritised.

“It is way beyond time that the Minister showed some urgency and ended decades of State neglect of oral health.”

June 17, 2024

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