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News / August 13, 2008

IDA CEO speaks out over urgent DTSS issues

by Guy Hiscott

Speaking on RTE 1 yesterday, chief executive officer of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), Fintan Hourihan, emphasised the difficulties facing dentists in relation to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS).

On News at One Mr Hourihan stated that one in 10 dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS, meaning almost 200 dentists have left the scheme over the last 18 months because of a lack of resolution with the HSE.

Speaking on behalf of the IDA’s members, Mr Hourihan went on to say, ‘They [dentists] are frustrated at the significant under-funding of the service and the refusal of the HSE to address the difficulties that are there with the medical card scheme.’

Mr Hourihan emphasised that the problems were not simply about funding and fees, but rather that there is now a ‘vacuum of almost two years created by the refusal of the HSE to talk about the issues’.

‘If one in seven dentists sit down and take an unprecedented decision to resign from the medical card scheme,’ he went on, ‘and people don’t see that as a problem, I think they’ve lost sight of the difficulties facing patients.’

In fact, extrapolated figures suggest that approximately 30,000 patients have been adversely affected by this issue.

Responding to the points that Mr Hourihan raised on the lunchtime show, the HSE issued a statement confirming that it is satisfied that there are sufficient dentists currently operating within the DTSS to meet demand.

The statement continued that, on legal advice, the HSE has been informed that it is precluded from negotiating with the IDA on the fee element of the DTSS review, under the Competition Act. The HSE is currently awaiting clarification as to how the overall review can be progressed.

The HSE does acknowledge that dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS scheme but that a substantial number of new contracts have also been agreed. Further, the HSE states that where any discrepancy in service has occurred, the Executive has ensured that emergency needs continue to be met.

The HSE claims not to have been alerted to delays currently being encountered by GMS patients, as has been suggested by the IDA.

To access the audio of the full interview with Mr Hourihan, visit