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Irish Dental Association accuses Government of ‘ignoring effective collapse of dental profession in Ireland’

Dentists’ incomes are down by over 90% on average during the Covid-19 pandemic.

THE IRISH DENTAL Association (IDA) has accused the Government of “ignoring the effective collapse of the dental profession in Ireland”, as the Covid-19 crisis continues to lead to widespread dental practice closures and redundancies.

In a letter addressed to Simon Harris and Paschal Donohoe, IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said he cannot overstate the “sense of despair and panic in the dental profession” at present.

“Unfortunately, there is also considerable anger amongst dentists at what is seen as complete neglect of our reasonable concerns by the Government.

“In normal times, 83% of spending on dentistry is out of pocket rather than paid for by the State – now, dentists’ incomes are down by over 90% on average during the Covid-19 pandemic as routine dentistry has been prohibited and emergency care cannot be provided in many cases due to unavailable or overly expensive PPE and other requirements.”

Hourihan added that it was disappointing that dentists had not received a similar level of support given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions, especially given dentists receive no capitation funding from the State.

“Medics and pharmacists have, quite rightly, been offered extensive support from the Government in order to continue to operate in such challenging circumstances. However, dentists have been left utterly isolated,” he added.

Hourihan said there were a small number of dentists working extraordinarily hard to serve their patients against the odds, but they could not do it alone.

“Oral health is vitally important for overall health, and a significant proportion of the population cannot access this care because so many dentists are unable to open their practice doors. This is unacceptable.

“The key for dentists is that there needs to be some measure of confidence that they will be able to resume viable practice in the near future. The association is urging the Government to consider a special kickstart package for dentistry.”

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