Laois Nationalist — Only one dentist per medical card holder in Laois.

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There is only one dental office offering its services to medical card holders in Laois.

This according to TD constituency Carol Nolan who said only one dentist in Laois is registered to treat patients under the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS).

Deputy Nolan described the service as being in crisis.

She said: “The provision of dental care to medical cardholders in this state is in absolute freefall. “The situation in Laois is particularly acute with only one service provider for the remaining medical card holders. It is the clearest indication yet that something has gone profoundly and radically wrong in the entire system.

“Even more alarming is the fact that the HSE has also confirmed to me that no new applications are being processed to join the DTSS for the HSE Dental Midlands region.”

Deputy Nolan said: ‘This is an intolerable situation for medical card holders and indeed for anyone in dire need of access to a dentist for urgent treatment. What I find absolutely appalling, however, is that there doesn’t seem to be any real urgency around this issue on the part of the government.

“The government must wake up to the full-fledged urgency that now exists in this area and act immediately to engage with people like the Irish Dental Association and others to try to create a way forward that will bring back confidence in the scheme for dental practitioners. .”

Last year the Irish Dental Association (IDA) said dental care in Laois for medical card holders was in ‘complete chaos’.

He also warned “the unprecedented number of dentists opting out of the ‘outdated’ Dental Treatment Services (DTSS) program is having a serious impact on patients.”

IDA Director General Fintan Hourihan said: “Between 2017 and 2020, state dental expenditures for patients with medical cards in the Laois/Offaly local health office area decreased by 39%, from €2,314,476.54 to €1,413,827.58.

He said: ‘Dentists want to be able to provide care to patients with medical cards, but the government is giving them no choice but to minimize their involvement or walk away.’

Due to declining funding and dentist participation, he said patients with medical cards now faced delays when seeking treatment. Increased travel times when seeking this treatment and possible reliance on the already underfunded public dental service to provide care in areas where DTSS contracts are not in place.

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