Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Health
267. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that dental practices are not facilitating appointments for medical card holders; the steps he is taking to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30752/20]
293. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of dental practices have made a decision to not provide treatment to medical card holders (details supplied); the steps he will take to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30858/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 and 293 together.
I am aware of the difficulties that the current Covid-19 pandemic poses for the dental profession. I understand that there are positive signs of the profession having adapted to provide oral health care and of patients availing of care in recent months.
The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by over 1,400 independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. I understand that since the beginning of March 155 dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS and that 50 new applications are being processed. I expect due process to be followed in respect of any withdrawal from the terms of a DTSS contract, in particular regarding an appropriate period of notice. I also expect dentists to continue to honour their ethical and contractual obligations to patients during the notice withdrawal period, to either provide a service or to ensure that patients are referred to another dentist who will provide a service. The HSE will assist medical card holders in accessing such treatment, if required.
My Department, in conjunction with the HSE, is examining the issue of the provision of PPE across all parts of the health service, including health service contractors.