“Sorry, we don’t take them” – Fewer dentists are offering their services to medical card holders – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

“Sorry, we don’t take them” – Fewer dentists are offering their services to medical card holders

Since December 2020, there has been a nearly 25% drop in the number of dentists seeking reimbursement through the plan for dental treatment services.

The scheme allows access to dental care for health card holders.

However, there has long been concern about its viability, with an increasing number of dentists leaving the scheme.

The data was provided to Sinn Féin, by the HSE, through written parliamentary questions.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced an expansion of services provided under the Dental Treatment Services scheme, as well as an increase in fees payable to dentists.

Mr Donnelly has also pledged to review the scheme, fearing its viability would be threatened.

That review has not yet begun, however, and the new numbers show a continuing decline in the number of dentists offering services through the plan.

In December 2020, the HSE began tracking the number of claims from dentists each month.

Since that date, the number of claims has steadily decreased, representing an overall decrease of 25%.

The number of dentists signing contracts under the scheme has also decreased by 23% since January 2019. The number of contracts has dropped from 1,489 to 1,146.

Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane received the figures via written parliamentary questions.

According to RTE, he said that “in the absence of a new negotiated contract, as called for by the Irish Dental Association”, more and more dentists will continue to opt out of the scheme.

The chief executive of the Irish Dental Association said a new scheme is needed to bring Ireland in line with international standards.

Fintan Hourihane said that it had been a while since the introduction of a new scheme and that dentists were frustrated by the delay in starting interviews for a new scheme.

He said it was “impossible” to get an appointment and that patients travel enormous distances to find an appointment.

Mr. Hourihane said that many wait long periods to see a dentist and cannot afford private care.

He said there were more ministers in Greystones, Co Wicklow, than dentists involved in the programme.

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