Slight increase in dentists re-entering medical card scheme

By Eoin Ryan

Dentists re-entering the medical card scheme in Meath increased since the start of this year but more is needed to cover ongoing shortfalls in the scheme.

The number of dentists registered on the Dental Treatment Services Scheme increased slightly from 8 to 11 dentists in Meath between the end of 2022 and the end of March 2023, according to Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd.

The government is providing an additional €15m to Irish oral healthcare in 2023, “however we must see a tangible outcome for medical card holders from this investment to ensure we have better access and less emergency referrals impacting the already overstretched HSE dental teams,” Fergus O’Dowd said.

6,518 6th class children in Meath have been waiting up to three years for dental assessment and treatment. According to figures released to Sinn Fein TD Imelda Munster.

A lack of dentists participating in the medical card scheme has led to “unprecedented” waiting lists for both primary schoolchildren and members of the public reliant on the scheme for dental care. 

“Delays like this have never been seen before and as if the figures for primary schoolchildren are not bad enough, the entire situation is compounded further with tens of thousands of medical card holders unable to access dental care for the past two years,” Imelda Munster said.

“Dentists are understandably sceptical of the government’s statements, not least given how often all promises on the commencement of talks on a new scheme have been broken. Dentists have said there’s been no changes to the scheme in 16 years.”

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