Drop in medical card patient treatments

The fall has been exacerbated by an exodus of private dentists from the scheme over the last three years

New figures have revealed a sharp fall in the number of medical card holders being treated by private dentists.

The total has dropped from nearly 1,500 down to fewer than 1,100 since 2019. Nearly 40 dentists left the scheme in the first three months of this year. A total of 270 removed themselves from it during 2020, followed by another 200 last year.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme allows practices to treat people on low incomes and provide them with extractions, fillings, clearing and examinations.

Caroline Robins, the President of the Irish Dental Association, said in an interview with Newstalk that the scheme did not look after patients. It wasn’t fit for purpose and needed to be reformed, she added.

Ms Robins said: ”My patients have to go to Cork if they have other needs – gum needs or anything like that. There’s just nowhere that I can refer them to.“

Sinn Féin has also joined the debate, saying the system is on the “verge of collapse” and also claiming that it urgently needs to be reformed.

The latest figure of 1,091 dentists treating patients signed up to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme was calculated at the end of March this year.

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Published: 12 September, 2022 at 07:45