Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Photo of Steven MatthewsSteven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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46. To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the departmental review of the dental medical card scheme; if a timeline will be provided for its completion; his plans to alleviate access issues to dentists for medical card holders in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16780/22]

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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70. To ask the Minister for Health his plans for arresting the collapse of the dental treatment services scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16800/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 70 together.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) is available to medical card holders aged 16 and over. I recognise that the DTSS, which dates from the 1990s, needs to be reviewed and aligned 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. Work on a substantive review of the DTSS Contract will commence by the end of Q2, 2022.

I have also acknowledged immediate issues of concern with the Scheme, which I am addressing as a matter of priority. Officials from my Department and from the HSE have held three rounds of discussions with the Irish Dental Association, the most recent on 2nd March when my Department and the HSE presented proposals to invest additional resources in the Dental Treatment Services Scheme.

I have now given approval for significant fee increases to be paid to contracted dentists across a number of items, including the Dental Examination and Fillings. I have also approved the reintroduction of Scale and Polish for medical card patients on the DTSS. These new measures are designed to address access problems for patients, and address dentist’s concerns about the viability of the DTSS, while aligning the DTSS more closely with the Dental Treatment Benefits Scheme, which is widely operated by private dentists for PRSI patients.

These measures should amount to an additional investment this year of about €26 million over what was spent on the Scheme in 2021. My Department and the HSE will work together to quickly implement the changes to the Scheme for the benefit of patients.


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