Taoiseach says medical card dental services increased in Mayo

The matter of medical card patients in Mayo being unable to access dental services in the county was raised in the Dail on Wednesday of this week by Mayo TD Alan Dillon, who told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Questions to An Taoiseach: "There is a staggering average in the county of over 5,500 patients per dentist awaiting treatment under the DTSS. Dentists are overwhelmed, patients are travelling abroad, and this is all a serious concern for medical card holders in Mayo."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar replied to Deputy Dillon stating: "We are running into some real difficulty with the dental treatment scheme as many dentists are pulling out and focusing on private practice; however we have 153 more dentists in the country than this time last year and as to the Mayo figures, over 45,000 patients in Mayo are eligible for the scheme, but there are just 21 dentist contractors there with the HSE. From January to June last year we did allocate an additional quarter of a million which was paid out and resulted in an increase of treatments there, so there has been an increase in the service."

The background to the situation came to light at the June meeting of Health Forum West held in Galway last week, where, in response to a query from Ballina councillor John O'Hara at HSE Forum West, John Fitzmaurice, Chief Officer, Community Healthcare West, noted that 'retirements and resignations are adding to the already stretched Dental Treatment Services Scheme which allows Medical Card patients access a limited menu of dental treatments'.

He added: "The DTSS Dental Treatment Services Scheme allows Medical Card patients to access a limited menu of dental treatments. A list of contracted private dentists is provided to Medical Card patients on request, with contact details. The capacity of such practices does not meet the demand. The factors impacting on access are: Difficulties recruiting Dentists and Dental Nurses; an ongoing dispute over fees; an increase in demand in all counties. The numbers of contractors operating the scheme has fallen due mainly to retirements and resignations in County Mayo. The PCRS is currently validating the list to demonstrate how many contractors are active. An adjustment to the fee structure in 2021 did little to attract new contractors or increase DTSS activity in County Mayo. Access to Dentists in Mayo will continue to be a serious challenge until there is an increase in capacity via recruitment of Dentists and Dental Nurses."


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