Dental headache for New Ross public patients

Sinn Féin New Ross area rep Marie Doyle and Sinn Féin TD Johnny Mythen have raised concerns at reports that there are no dentists taking on patients with medical cards in the New Ross area.

s Doyle said: “I have been contacted by many people in New Ross highlighting the lack of dentists that accept medical card. Last week one woman who was in severe pain had contacted me looking for assistance as she couldn’t afford to pay private fees.

“This is just one of several similar stories we have heard over the last while.”

She said when she contacted the Wexford health centre for the list of dentists available in New Ross they told me there are none.

“This is an appalling situation that needs to be addressed urgently.”

Sinn Féin TD for Co. Wexford Deputy Johnny Mythen added: “Issues with access to dentists for those with a medical card are ongoing in the county. I have tabled questions to the Minister for Health on this, given the urgent nature of the problem. People cannot be left suffering in pain with nowhere to go.”

Deputy Mythen said more must be done to recruit and retain dentists on the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS).

“I will be watching this situation closely and will continue to raise this with the minister.”

New Ross dentist Maurice Quirke said issues of access to treatment for Medical Card holders are entirely the responsibility of the HSE so all enquiries should be addressed to the HSE office at Grogan’s Road.

“Over several years, I, and many other dentists across the country, have publicly warned that this eventuality was inevitable if the DOHC and HSE did not take reasonable action to review and reform the DTSS. I warned that dentists could not continue to operate a service at a loss but unfortunately, no significant remedial action was taken.

In fact, officials have refused to negotiate with representatives of the profession for several years and have only succeeded in alienating dentists who have provided services locally for many years on a contract basis.

Over the last two years, precipitated by increased costs associated with Covid, the scheme has virtually collapsed nationwide and any goodwill many private general dental practitioners may have had in the ability of the HSE/DOHC to introduce a workable plan has been exhausted. Promises to assist the profession to continue to provide services failed to be delivered, further eroding the fragile relationship between contractors and the HSE.

Now the HSE and the Minister must accept responsibility, which has always been theirs, for the patients who are entitled to treatment under the terms of the Health Act 1970.”

He said unfortunately, promises from opposition politicians to ‘keep an eye on things’ do not constitute an effective plan to resurrect a badly damaged system.

“My personal view is that many dentists who have resigned from the scheme are extremely unlikely to ever consider working with the HSE again in future.”

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