(Limerick East): Under the new dental treatment services scheme which was introduced by my Department on 1 November 1994 dental treatment for all adults with medical card eligibility will be phased in over a four year period.
In the initial phasing of the scheme persons aged 65 years and over have been identified as a priority group and additional resources have been made available to health boards to enable them to provide dental treatment including denture treatment for this group. Emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain is, of course, available to all medical card holders irrespective of age.
However, where their existing resources allow, health boards will continue to provide routine dental treatment to adults who have not yet reached 65 years.
It is my intention to extend routine dental treatment under the scheme to an additional cohort of adults later this year if the initial phase progresses satisfactorily.
All health boards operate a priority waiting list for dental treatment for medically compromised persons who are given priority irrespective of age on production of a letter from their general medical practitioner.
My Department has made inquiries of the South Eastern Health Board in regard to the individual case raised by the Deputy as the board has the statutory responsibility for the provision of dental treatment to eligible persons in County Carlow. The board has informed my Department that there are no exceptional circumstances which would warrant dealing with this case on an exceptional basis.