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Dentists who are charging customers a Covid-19 fee urged to display prices

Some people have reported being charged as much as €20 extra for an appointment, due to Covid-19 measures.

DENTAL SURGERIES THAT have introduced extra Covid-19 charges for clients have been urged to display these extra charges as per the Dental Council’s rules.

Some dental surgeries are charging a Covid-19 related fee per appointment in order to implement measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although dentists and dental nurses wore personal protective equipment (PPE) before the Covid-19 crisis, additional PPE is needed to keep staff and patients safe for appointments during the pandemic. 

Some dentists are charging a lower PPE fee for non-aerosol producing procedures than for ones that might produce aerosol. Aerosol can be produced during treatments such as fillings and some hygiene treatment, and can lead to the risk of virus particles spreading.

While some dentists are upfront about the extra costs, some customers have said that they were not aware of this cost until they were at the dentist’s surgery.

The extra costs can range from €5 up to €20 per visit.

The global demand for PPE has also gone up, meaning dentists are competing for supplies against governments and other industries, leading to higher prices in some cases.

In relation to dentists charging additional Covid-19 related fees, Vice President of the Irish Dental Association Kieran O’Connor said that there would still be an obligation on dentists to display these additional fees, as per the Dental Council’s guidelines.

“The Dental Council has a list of items that people must display charges for. So I would imagine if somebody is charging for PPE, that should be clearly identifiable.”

The Code of Practice makes it mandatory for dentists to display their private fees for certain treatments in a place where patients can read it before their consultation.

“The fees displayed must be accurate, transparent and inclusive of all costs.  It is not permitted for a dentist to set a minimum price only for a treatment,” the Dental Council states.

“It is recommended that the fee notice be displayed at any of the following locations: entrance to the practice; reception area(s); waiting room(s).”

Dentists have called for a meeting with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to discuss the promise made by the Irish government to deliver PPE for dental practices  that was never delivered upon.

The Irish Dental Association has also said that the industry is under pressure from reducing its capacity; dentists have had to reduce the number of patients they see each day by up to a third, meaning patients are finding it harder to get an appointment.

“Six months ago if somebody came up on my doorstep with a toothache, we could say, look, sit down and we’ll get to see you. Now, we can’t have people hanging around,” O’Connor said. 

- with reporting from Sean Murray

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