Cllr denounces the lack of dental care accessible to medical card holders


Critically ill patients, the elderly and welfare recipients across the country are finding it nearly impossible to get dental care as the majority of dentists refuse to take patients with a medical card due to of the dispute with the government.

Dental patients in Meath are among those being neglected, according to Cllr Michael Gallagher, as the dispute between dentists and the government has left many medical card holders in Meath unable to seek treatment.

A single mother from Kells said she couldn’t get an appointment to see a dentist anywhere in Meath and, after huge delays, traveled to Kingscourt to get much-needed treatment.

“I couldn’t really afford to take a taxi to Kingscourt, but there was no other way to get dental treatment. I couldn’t get appointments in Meath,” said- she declared.

“I don’t drive so I had to take a taxi and it was extremely expensive. I couldn’t wait any longer. I ended up having to get my dentures so I had to travel a few times and as a single mother, it was very hard financially, the trip also took a long time, it would have been so much easier if I could have been treated in Navan or Kells, but I did not find anyone to treat me.

“I know lots of people in Kells who have been in the same situation as me and had to travel to Kingscscourt or Dublin to see a dentist.”

She is also worried about her mother, a retiree who is in dire need of dental treatment.

“She lives near Kentstown and can’t afford a taxi to Kingscourt. It’s too far.

“Some of his teeth are in very poor condition and are falling out. They have been neglected and she will probably also need dentures,”

The plight of Meath residents who travel to Dublin or Cavan for treatment, while others simply have to go without dental care, was highlighted by Cllr Michael Gallagher.

“I know a woman who is undergoing cancer treatment and is in dire need of seeing a dentist. The treatment she is undergoing has damaged her teeth and she cannot access dental care.

“I know someone who had to travel to Kingscourt to get the care she needed and others who cannot get any treatment.

“Most of the dentists in the North East have refused to provide dental services to medical card patients due to their dispute with the government and those providing services to medical card patients have huge waiting lists.

“People who really can’t afford it have had to take expensive taxis to get dental care. For far too many people, necessary dental care is no longer accessible,” he said.

Recently, the CEO of the Irish Dental Association, Fintan Hourihan, said over the past few years there had been “a significant outflow” from the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) due to the low level of fees paid by the state. and frustrations with how the program is run.

According to the HSE, the number of dentists with contracts is now at 1,082. However, figures from earlier this year show that only 660 dentists across the country were actively treating patients with medical cards. The number of dentists holding DTSS contracts increased from 1,660 in 2017.

Cllr Gallagher raised the issue at a recent Meath County Council meeting, calling on the Minister of Health, Minister for Public Expenditure and the Irish Dental Association to resolve their financial disputes and restore dental services to patients medical card holders. The motion received unanimous support.


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