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Thursday, 21st October 2021

Dental care crisis in Louth worsens a year after being highlighted

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Labour TD Ged Nash.

“Frankly, I am shocked by the statistics” says Nash 

“This red alert for dental care cannot continue to be ignored" 

Labour TD Ged Nash has said that it is scandalous that one year after he raised the crisis in dental care in Louth, the problem for children, medical card holders and dental professionals has actually worsened.

Updated official figures obtained a number of weeks ago by Deputy Nash reveal that; 

  • The number of dentists providing treatment to medical card holders has more than halved (from 34 to 16) since 2017
  • All 6th class primary school students have waited over 12 months for a dental check-up for the past 3 years
  • 100% of people on the Adult Oral Surgery and Paediatric Special Care waiting lists have been waiting 12 months or more for treatment.

Deputy Nash said; “The number of dentists who have withdrawn from the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) means there are fewer dental professionals available to treat patients who are entitled to free treatment because they have a medical card.

“I have recently been contacted by a host of concerned constituents who have been refused dental care at their regular practice due to their medical card status and by other patients who have been waiting an extraordinary amount of time for essential medical treatment and who are on the Adult Oral Surgery list or who have a child on the Paediatric Special Care waiting list.

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“Over a year on from when I first drew attention to this serious problem, the problem has only gotten worse.

“I have raised this issue directly with the Minister for Health and HSE on their behalf and behalf of all constituents in Louth & East Meath area.

“Frankly, I am shocked by the statistics which prove the huge scale of the problem in terms of waiting times for dental treatment and the impact of the withdrawal of care from medical card patients.

“This has left a number of vulnerable patients - from children, to students and pensioners - in the lurch, scrambling to find another dental service or scrapping together money for expensive treatments at a time when household finances are already stretched.

“I have repeatedly raised this issue with the former Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris (FG), and current Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly (FF) and was assured last year that the Department of Health was “urgently pursuing the matter with the HSE National Oral Health Office to seek to ensure that no patients are left without a service”.

“Yet over a year later, we have seen little or no concrete action taken and the situation continues to deteriorate. Despite the promises, patients continue to be left without vital dental care or are forced onto unacceptably long and ever-growing waiting lists.

“This flies in the face of the Government’s own promise under the National Oral Health Policy to develop a model of care that will improve access and enable preventative approaches.

“I am aware that the assistant national director with the HSE, Dr Joseph Green has directly warned that ‘unless the provision of basic dental services to adult medical card holders is addressed urgently at the highest level, the HSE Louth Meath dental service may be forced to confine dental services to emergency treatment only, to the detriment of the oral health of both children and adults in particular those with special care needs."

“This red alert for dental care cannot continue to be ignored by the Minister for Health.

“The Minister for Health and the HSE urgently need to urgently engage with providers and their representative body and put an effective plan and resources in place to ensure the people of Louth & East Meath have timely and affordable access to essential dental treatment and I have also requested a meeting with the Irish Dental Association to establishing how I can assist to address this problem or the people I represent.”

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