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News / May 29, 2024

Irish Dental Association condemns dental school U-turn

by Patrick Ward

Irish Dental Association condemns dental school U-turn

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has criticised the decision to scrap plans for a ‘badly needed’ new dental school in Cork.

University College Cork (UCC) was given permission in 2019 for a new five-storey building in Curraheen, which would replace Cork University Dental School’s current campus, which it shares with Cork University Hospital.

The plans aimed to increase capacity at the school, which is one of only two in Ireland. However, they were dropped in February due to concerns over funding arising from inflation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Profoundly worrying’

‘The decision to cancel the building of a new dental school in Cork is profoundly worrying,’ IDA CEO Fintan Hourihan told the Oireachtas Health Committee.

‘We believe that, with some smart thinking and collaboration between the relevant government departments, UCC and the HSE, a funding solution should be possible.

‘This would not only allow a badly needed dental school to be built on a greenfield site but also allow expansion of the capacity in Cork University Hospital, on whose campus the current dental school is located.’

The decision came at a time of increasing concern over access to dentists, with one in six patients currently waiting more than three months for routine appointments, according to the IDA.

A lack of dental professionals has also led to more than 100,000 children missing out on having their teeth checked and treated in the second, fourth and sixth class in primary school.

According to the IDA, there was a 23% fall in the number of dentists employed by the HSE between 2006 and 2022. During the same timeframe, the number of junior doctors rose by 52%, hospital consultants were up by 44% and nurses by 20%.

Mr Hourihan told the committee: ‘Dentists feel we are always one excuse or one more promise away from anything being done by the state.’

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