Green Party TD Steven Matthews has welcomed significant progress made by the HSE in relation to access for medical card holders in Wicklow to basic dental services. The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) is available to medical card holders aged 16 and over. The update comes from the response to a series of parliamentary questions and submissions made by Deputy Matthews on behalf of constituents who hold medical cards and have been unable to access treatment for several months. Discussing the progress, Deputy Matthews said:
“This is an issue I first raised about 6 months ago on behalf of a series of constituents who wrote to me seeking support in accessing extremely basic dental care such as fillings and teeth cleaning. Each of them held valid medical cards but were finding it impossible to find a dentist that accepted medical card patients and the rare ones that still did had huge waiting lists.
“The update I received this week indicated that in their third round of discussions with the Irish Dental Association, the Minister has given approval for significant fee increases to be paid to contracted dentists across a number of items, including the Dental Examination and Fillings. This is welcome progress and had been a sticking point in the negotiations previously.
“It is expected that following this agreement, a number of dentists that had withdrawn from accepted patients with medical cards, will make arrangements to start accepting them again. The reintroduction of Scale and Polish for medical card patients has also been approved. These new measures are designed to address access problems for patients, and address dentist’s concerns about the viability of the DTSS.
“In the initial responses I received from the HSE and Minister for Health before Christmas, they acknowledged the problem but seemed far off reaching a point where the solution would be in place on the ground. In fairness to the HSE, considering the weight of other issues facing them, to see genuine progress in this area is hugely welcome. I hope and expect the new agreements between the Irish Dental Association and the HSE will allow medical card patients easy and fast access to dental treatment as soon as possible.
“I further welcomed confirmation from the Minister that work on a substantive review of the DTSS Contract will commence by the end of Q2, 2022. I look forward to working with the HSE to ensure the best possible outcome for all dental patients. If any medical card holders continue to encounter problems in getting an appointment with a Wicklow based dentist, I would ask them to get in touch with me and I would be happy to follow up with the HSE on their behalf, concluded Deputy Matthews.