Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Department of Health
599. To ask the Minister for Health the measures that have been taken to address shortages in the provision of dental services under the medical card scheme in particular as it relates to dental provision for pensioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44748/21]
627. To ask the Minister for Health the progress that has been made between his Department and an association (details supplied) since presenting proposals for reform of the dental treatment services scheme in August 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44999/21]
650. To ask the Minister for Health the measures which have been taken to resolve the acute crisis in the provision of dental services under the medical card scheme and in particular as it relates to dental provision for pensioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45139/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 599, 627 and 650 together.
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 independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. Patients may choose to have their treatment undertaken by any dentist who participates in the Scheme.
I am aware that there has been a reduction in the numbers of dentists participating in the DTSS since the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some people are experiencing problems in accessing a service close to their home. However, I have been assured by the HSE that their local services on the ground will assist any persons who are experiencing problems in accessing a service.
The national approach to future oral health service provision will be informed by Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy, which was published in 2019. The aim of the policy is to develop a model of care that will enable preventative approaches to be prioritised, improve access, and support interventions appropriate to current and future oral health needs.
I am committed to ensuring the sustainability of the DTSS, but recognise that it needs to be aligned with the new Policy. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the roll-out of the National Oral Health Policy to be delayed, and the proposed review of the DTSS contract to be deferred. Officials in my Department and from the HSE are currently engaging with the Irish Dental Association on matters relating to the provision of services under the DTSS.