Wednesday, 2 March 2022
Department of Health
The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTTS), 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.
There is a need to align the DTSS with best international evidence and practice, and legislation, as outlined in Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy. Regretfully, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the roll-out of the Policy to be delayed and the proposed review of the DTSS contract to be deferred.
It is regrettable that a significant number of dentists chose to leave the DTSS that provides care for medical card patients during the pandemic, which has led to difficulties for medical card patients in accessing dental care in some parts of the country. In such circumstances, I have been assured that the HSE Public Dental Service is seeking to provide emergency cover for any medical card patients who are experiencing such problems.
I have given a commitment to a substantive review of the DTSS, which will include fees paid to dentists. I have also acknowledged the immediate issues of concern with current arrangements under the Scheme.
My officials met with the Irish Dental Association in December to address both of these issues. A further round of discussions with the IDA is to take place on 2 March.
I would also wish to point out that I secured additional funding of €10 million in Budget 2022 to address immediate issues with the DTSS, which is on top of the annual allocation of €56 million for 2022.