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News / March 16, 2021

COVID-19 – thousands on school waiting lists for dental care in Cork

by Gaby Bissett

Thousands of young people and children are stuck on dental waiting lists in CorkThousands of young people and children are stuck on dental waiting lists in Cork.

This is according to data reported by Echo Live, which was revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

It shows that around 7,000 sixth class children are on a waiting list for screenings as part of the school dental scheme.

In addition, there is significant backlog of youngsters who are in need of treatment such as extractions.

Significant backlog

For example, a 450-strong waiting list has built up of those waiting on general anaesthetic appointments.

Additionally, around 130 children with additional needs are in a queue for ‘comprehensive care’.

This comes as the profession urges the government to take action over fears dentistry is in ‘complete chaos’. 

According to the Irish Dental Association (IDA), dental treatment for medical card holders in Ireland is ‘utterly unfit for purpose’.

Data shows state spending on medical card dental care fell by almost one third between 2017 and 2020. This signals a drop from €5.5 million to €3.8 million.

On top of this, the number of DTSS contracts have dropped by 31% between 2015 to 2020 (1,847 to 1,279).

Level of disrespect

Fintan Hourihan is chief executive of the IDA. ‘We have sought to engage with the Department of Health to modify this scheme over many years to no avail,’ he said.

‘Increasingly, our members believe that the refusal to acknowledge this reality. The general approach of the Department of Health suggests a level of disrespect, if not contempt, for medical card patients and the dentists contracted to care for them.

‘It also shows scant regard or understanding of the impact of this crisis on vulnerable patients who are unable to afford access to vital dental care.’