A devastating blow for oral health

Another year of cuts for dentistry says the IDA

Despite delivering the first service plan in seven years to show a net increase in spending, dentist leaders have bemoaned another year of cuts for dentistry.

The Health Service Executive’s (HSE) service plan for 2015 has been criticised by the Irish Dental Association (IDA) for not allowing an increase towards the dental costs of medical card holders.

IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said: “Since 2010, adults covered by the dental scheme for HSE medical card holders and those covered by the Department of Social Protection’s PRSI dental scheme have seen ongoing annual cuts in state supports of over €100m each and every year. It is therefore incomprehensible that there is no additional funding for medical card patients.

The legacy of these years of systematic dental neglect by the state will be reaped for many years to come. It is long past time for the HSE and the Department of Health to prioritise support for patients requiring dental care and treatment. Today is not only a missed opportunity but a devastating blow to all those advocating for urgent action and funding for oral health.”

The National Service Plan 2015 included just one mention of dentistry, under improved and additional primary care services, outlining an extra €1 million to reduce orthodontic waiting lists.

Hourihan said: “This is a paltry sum for a huge problem, but the fact remains that those with unmet or diagnosed dental need represents a huge multiple of those requiring orthodontic care and treatment.”

A spokesman for the HSE said: “The HSE is working to improve access to dental and orthodontic treatment by utilising effectively the resources provided and reducing waiting times. Under the Programme for Government Primary Care Funds an additional €1m funds has been allocated to address these challenges.

The focus of the additional investment will be for those waiting longest for treatment and to ensure that there is consistency to access and wait times right across the country.”