‘A trail of destruction’

The outgoing president of the Irish Dental Association has said the effects of the cuts to the medical card and PRSI schemes in 20ı0 have set back oral health to a level not seen since the late ı970s and early ı980s.

Dr PJ Byrne (pictured), writing in the IDA’s annual report said that the cutbacks had “unleashed a trail of destruction on our patients and the profession”. He said: “The fallout from these decisions by the [government] departments will be seen for many years, particularly the significant impact on oral and systemic health, especially on the most vulnerable members of society. The closure and the struggle for survival of many practices in our country will never be forgotten in the history of the Association.”

However, Dr Byrne then continued on a more optimistic note: “I am pleased to see that we are starting to emerge from these dark days, but our drive as a profession for independent practice has to be reinforced by the impact of a historic reliance on state schemes.”

The future of the state schemes was also covered in the annual report of the Irish Dental Union with chief executive Fintan Hourihan saying that dentists have become “very wary” of third party involvement in their practices. He wrote: “Dentists have in large measure weathered the storm and are determined never to leave themselves in such a vulnerable position again.”

He continued by saying that fixed fees levels in the schemes were already out of date in 20ı0, so any new scheme will need to update the previous levels.

He said: “Dentists are in favour of schemes but only if they are well managed, have clarity, allow for preventive treatments, and payment is made in good time. It will not be acceptable to dentists to participate in a scheme that could be ended by the government at short notice.”

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