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News / October 8, 2020

Calls for government to address dental crisis in Budget 2021

by Gaby Bissett

Dentists are calling for the Irish government to address resourcing troubles in dentistry in its upcoming Budget 2021Dentists are calling for the Irish government to address resourcing troubles in dentistry in its upcoming Budget 2021. 

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) says the government cannot continue to delay its response to the dental crisis, pointing towards its implications for patients.

Fintan Hourihan is the chief executive of the IDA. He says the government has failed to address the growing problems.

Dire implications

‘The provision of private and public service dentistry has been severely affected since the emergence of COVID-19 in March,’ he says.

‘And up to now the government has failed utterly to address the crisis in any meaningful way. Half of all private dentists have reported that their costs have increased by 30-50% as a result of COVID-19. Yet, after being promised PPE by the last government five months ago, over 700 dentists have been ignored since then.

‘Furthermore, there has been a 22% drop over five years in the number of dentists signed up to the outdated and unfit-for-purpose medical card scheme. This is having dire implications for approximately 150,000 patients.’

In its pre-Budget submission, the association calls for:

  • Improved access to oral and dental healthcare for adults
  • Better capacity within private practice dentistry
  • Additionally, adequate resourcing for our collapsing dental service.

Matter of urgency

Similarly, IDA president Dr Anne O’Neill says the country is facing a ‘serious healthcare emergency’.

‘Oral health is a crucial part of a person’s overall health,’ she says.

‘In a recent IDA members’ survey, over 60% of dentists said they believed that COVID-19 would have a moderate to major impact on the oral health of the population.

‘Make no mistake, we are facing a serious healthcare emergency with worse to come if more is not done to help both private and public service dentists. Our patients are the ones who will bear the brunt of this emergency. This must be addressed in the Budget as a matter of urgency.’

Budget 2021 will be announced on Tuesday 13 October 2020. The IDA’s pre-Budget submission can be read here.