Health | Dental patients requirements met and progressed
To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which dental patients can have their requirements met and progressed as quickly as possible with particular reference to medical card holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. Services available annually include an examination, two fillings and emergency extractions. More complex care and a broader range of treatments for patients with special needs and high-risk patients is also provided, some of which requires prior approval.
I have been concerned for some time that medical card patients in some parts of the country have been experiencing problems in accessing dental services.
To help address this issue, an additional €10 million in Budget 2022 was secured to provide for expanded dental health care for medical card holders including the reintroduction of Scale and Polish. In addition, an estimated €16 million of an underspend in this year’s estimate allocation (€56 million) is being used to award fee increases across a number of items including fillings.
The combination of these two measures represents an estimated total additional investment of €26 million in the Scheme this year over and above what was spent on the Scheme in 2021, €40 million.
Following consultation with the Irish Dental Association, these new measures came into effect on 1st May. I would hope that this significant additional investment in the Scheme will encourage more and more dentists to treat medical card patients.
These measures are designed to address immediate concerns with the DTSS, pending a more substantive reform of the Scheme. It is my intention that this is addressed in the context of the implementation of the National Oral Health Policy, which sets out a body of substantial services reform. Work is underway on a governance framework for this root and branch service reform. The Chief Dental Officer is engaging with stakeholders and I understand that she will meet shortly with the Irish Dental Association.
I have been assured by the HSE that their local services on the ground will assist any persons who are still experiencing problems in accessing a service.
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