Whitmore calls on Minister to address shortage in dentists accepting medical card patients in Wicklow

Dentist shortage

Deputy Whitmore has called on the Minister for Health to intervene in the on-going issue of the shortage in the number of dentists in Wicklow and across the country accepting medical card patients. Deputy Whitmore put a Question to the Minister for Health on the topic following concerns from constituents having trouble finding a dental practice taking medical card holders.

Deputy Whitmore says, “since Covid more and more dental practices have left the public dental care scheme which provides care for people in receipt of a medical card. What started out as a disagreement over the cost of PPN equipment has now become a problem which has continued to develop over years. It has resulted in many dental practices leaving making it difficult for those with medical cards to access dental treatment.

“This means, people with medical cards are going without treatment or having to travel further away across the county or to a different county altogether to get dental treatment. This should be something people can access locally.

“The Minister has confirmed more funding has been provided to increase the fees for treatments which dentists carry out, however it has yet to be seen how this will improve the situation for people in Wicklow. I’ve had many constituents contact me spending months trying to get a dental practice to take them on as a medical card patient and not being able to find anyone who will treat them. In the meantime, they are living with a dental issue that’s only getting worse and will become even more expensive which the state will have to cover in the end.

“By the time they contact me, I have to put them through to the HSE for emergency treatment when they should’ve been seen to months prior. It is not clear whether there are enough dental practices re-entering the scheme. In the meantime, it’s important that people with medical cards can access treatment on time and locally. I have raised this issue for the past two years and while I welcome the Minister’s most recent response it seems progress, if any, will be slow for those living in Wicklow. I will continue to raise this and urge the Minister to resolve this issue once and for all” concludes Whitmore.

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