Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Department of Health
1926. To ask the Minister for Health the dental services that are available to children and those under the age of 18 who are in receipt of a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2558/22]
1927. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that follow-up dental appointments for children in receipt of a medical card are not covered by the card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2559/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1926 and 1927 together.
Currently dental care for children under 16 is provided by the Public Dental Service of the HSE in accordance with 1994 Dental Health Action Plan, with a strong emphasis on prevention. This is delivered through targeted screening and prevention for school children at certain dental developmental milestones and for special needs groups. The HSE advise that children who are 16 or under have access to emergency treatment through the HSE. Particular treatment that needs to be resolved over several appointments is not considered as an emergency.
The Dental Treatment Services Scheme, which dates from the 1990s is available to medical card holders aged 16 and over. The dental care is 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. The Scheme covers a dental examination, two fillings in each calendar year, prescriptions, denture repairs and extractions as necessary. Other more complex treatments such as the provision of dentures require the approval of the HSE before the dentist can proceed and in this case the dentist applies directly to the HSE.
A new National Oral Health Policy was launched in April 2019. That Policy set out the roadmap for the future provision of oral healthcare to the eligible population. It has two key goals; first, to provide the supports to enable every individual to achieve their best oral health, and second, to reduce oral health inequalities across the population, by enabling vulnerable groups to access oral healthcare and improve their oral health.
Under the new Policy, all children up to 16 years will have available to them eight oral healthcare packages consisting of examinations, assessments (including orthodontic assessments), advice, prevention interventions, emergency care and referral as appropriate. The packages will be provided in a primary care setting by oral healthcare practitioners contracted by the HSE. The roll-out of these packages of care will take place incrementally.