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Moving dentists to vaccination programme will cause 'irreparable damage' to children, says IDA

IDA President, Dr Anne O’Neill said that the organisation had “lost faith” in the Department of Health to implement change.

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Image: Shutterstock/Anna Jurkovska

THE IRISH DENTAL Association (IDA) has said that moving public sector dentists to the vaccination programme will cause “irreparable damage” to children and vulnerable adults.

Speaking at the IDA’s AGM this morning, outgoing IDA President Dr Anne O’Neill said that while dentists are willing to be used as vaccinators, their absence from the public sector will create a lack of early intervention.

“It is important to state that their absence means a lack of early intervention, a lack of early diagnosis and treatment of dental diseases to both children and vulnerable adults, some of which will result in the loss of teeth for life,” said Dr O’Neill.

“This has led to significant issues, not least the fact that irreparable damage is being left untreated in our child population.

If we are truly interested in providing a patient-centred system to support oral health, we must keep the needs of the patient in focus when considering any changes to the existing system.

Dr O’Neill also said that the organisation had “lost faith” in the Department of Health to implement substantive change for the good of dental patients.

The criticism was primarily levelled at the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS), which allows medical card holders to receive dental care.

Dr O’Neill said that the scheme was widening the gap between those who can afford dental care and those who cannot.

A spokesperson for the IDA said that the system was outdated and unfit for purpose.

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“Fewer than 800 of the country’s 2,500 general practice dentists were actively treating medical card patients last month as record numbers of dentists abandoned the DTSS scheme following unprecedented funding cuts,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that an entirely new approach was required, not tweaks to the existing system to allow for adequate care.

The IDA currently represents 2,000 dentists, both public and private, practicing in Ireland.

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment, but none has been received at the time of publishing.

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