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News / January 16, 2009

Limerick Cathaoirleach issues dangerous dental tourism message

by Guy Hiscott

The Limerick Leader has lifted the lid on a potentially dangerous message issued by the Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr John Gallahue, encouraging his constituents to travel abroad for cheaper healthcare.

Cllr Gallahue’s press release, issued earlier this week, promotes cheaper dental and medical care abroad as an alternative to paying for similar work to be carried out in Ireland.

The Irish Hungarian Cultural and Business Association, of which Cllr Gallahue is secretary, was recently set up to promote links between the two countries, and one of the ways in which it hopes to market holidays in Hungary is through ‘medical tourism’.

In the press release, Cllr Gallahue is quoted as saying: ‘Most medical procedures are between 50 and 70 per cent cheaper in Hungary. Availing of services ranging from dentistry to minor medical operations can result in considerable savings, even with airfares and hotels costs included.’

He added that a friend of his was recently quoted €17,000 for dental treatment in Ireland, but got the same work done in Hungary for €9,000.

Speaking to the newspaper, a spokesperson for the Irish Dental Association urged people to be extremely cautious, however, as Irish dentists frequently had to work with patients who experienced problems as a result of travelling abroad for dental care.

The spokesperson added that the Association would also advise that patients make an appointment with their own family dentist to discuss treatment options before making a final decision, most especially as in many cases price comparisons can be highly misleading.