Dentists urgently need State assistance

Second meeting with Harris to take place
  • Deborah Condon

Dentists are to meet with the Minister for Health again this week, after holding what was described as a "constructive engagement" with him on Friday.

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) met with Minister Simon Harris last week to highlight the scale of the current crisis facing dentists in Ireland as a result of COVID-19.

A survey of 329 private dentists carried out last week revealed that almost 80% feel that the current pandemic has resulted in a high or very high risk to the sustainability of their practice, while 86% of practices have already laid off staff.

Some 87% believe they are unlikely or very unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels of service, while 93% predict a drop in income of at least 40% in the medium to long-term.

"For weeks, the IDA has voiced its serious concerns to the Government over the state of dentistry in Ireland during the COVID-19 crisis, so we welcome this engagement with Minister Harris. Dentists will be keen to now see a comprehensive response from the Government.

"We made clear to the Minister that the dental profession cannot deal with COVID-19 on its own and urgently needs assistance from the State, otherwise we will see the collapse of the two State dental schemes," commented IDA chief executive, Fintan Hourihan.

He insisted that if the dental profession is to survive, dentists need a "special kickstart package of financial aid", as well as support in obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE).

"It is also vital that all patients are afforded access to the HSE's emergency dental centres. Oral health has a huge impact on a person's overall health and we cannot have a situation whereby numerous dental practices permanently close, meaning dental services are unattainable for many people," Mr Hourihan added.

 


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