Irish Government’s policy ‘flawed’

The Irish Government’s new oral health policy is “fundamentally flawed” and cannot work in the absence of changes to the way dentists are trained, the State’s main postgraduate dental training body has warned.

The policy, published last April, needs to be reviewed and legislative changes made to ensure dentists are sufficiently educated, according to the RCSI’s Faculty of Dentistry.

Last month, the Government announced that free dental treatment for under-sixes will come into effect next September as part of Budget 2020. But Fintan Hourihan, Chief Executive of the Irish Dental Association, said: “Moving from a risk-based, targeted public dental service model to a system where children are seen if they attend in private dental practices is very problematic.”

The Faculty said that the policy fails to make provision for the ongoing post-graduate education and training of dentists, and that the proposed network of advanced oral healthcare centres requires skilled dental specialists who currently are not available.

Faculty dean Dr John Marley wrote to Minister for Health Simon Harris reiterating its concerns. Dr Marley said there should be a mandatory system of continuing professional development for dentists, as well as the introduction of further specialist lists beyond the existing ones in orthodontics and oral surgery.

Dr Marley said the Department could not “simply race ahead” with the policy without putting in place the foundations needed to make it a success. “Enacting the legislative changes now to ensure that our dentists are sufficiently trained and educated must be the immediate priority for the Department,” he said. “Unfortunately, we see no evidence of this promised legislative change being actioned.”

To read about the oral health policy, click here.

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Published: 5 November, 2019 at 07:32