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News / April 8, 2021

Medical card scheme in Ireland ‘on the brink of collapse’

by Gaby Bissett

The dental profession is calling for a 'fundamentally new approach' from the government amidst fears lower income groups are being affected


The dental profession is calling for a ‘fundamentally new approach’ to dentistry from the government. 

This follows fears lower income groups are being affected by the current model.

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) is urging for the dental needs of the more disadvantaged to be addressed. It argues that the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) is no longer viable.

It argues that significant ‘anger and disillusionment’ among dentists has led to a ‘lifetime of embarrassment, decreased nutrition and loss of wellbeing’ for patients across Ireland.

Fintan Hourihan, chief executive of the IDA, said change was desperately needed for the health and wellbeing of patients.


‘The medical card scheme is on the brink of collapse,’ he said.

‘It affects 1.5 million eligible patients who have seen a significant erosion in their ability to access dental care over the past decade.

‘The pandemic has highlighted the complete inadequacies of this scheme. An unprecedented number of dentists are withdrawing because they cannot afford to participate.

‘In 2020, almost one quarter of participating dentists nationwide left this scheme which highlights its failings. It is clear the government can no longer stand over a scheme, which is neither good for patients nor dentists in any respect.’

According to HSE data, total spending on the DTSS has fallen from more than €63 million in 2017 to €40 million in 2020, marking a 36% drop.