Green Party TD, Deputy Steven Matthews was speaking following a series of correspondences from constituents across Wicklow that raised serious concerns regarding the lack of dental appointments available for those who have medical cards. Discussing the issue, Deputy Matthews said:
“This is an issue that is becoming increasingly apparent as we emerge from lockdown. It appears to be a longstanding problem between the HSE and Dental practices that was put on the long finger because of the pandemic. What is particularly distressing is that it is an issue only impacting on medical card patients and this disparity is not acceptable.
“I’ve been contacted by numerous people from across Wicklow who have been unable to get appointments due to being on the medical card. Dental care is something that we all need and should have equal access to. What is also clear is that this is not an issue just impacting new customers to dental practices as I have been contacted by people who’ve been with the same dentist for over a decade but only in recent weeks have they been told that they no longer accept medical card patients.
“I wrote to Minister Donnelly last week to ask that his Department/ the HSE urgently look into the matter and if a solution is not forthcoming in the short term, I plan to raise this directly in the Dáil as it is simply unfair. I accept that there had been issues early in the summer relating to accessing patient records due to the HSE cyber-attack, but we are several months on from that issue. Reports have indicated that Wicklow is particularly impacted by the drop off in service access for medical card patients, but this issue is replicated in towns and villages across the country.
“I have called on Minister Donnelly to engage with representatives from the dental industry to immediately seek solutions for patients that are the victims in this dispute. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, dental appointments are an example of the primary – day to day health care that people need and there needs to be fair and equal access for all patients, concluded Deputy Matthews.