My Department is preparing new legislation to replace the Dentists Act 1985. The current Act provides for the establishment of the Dental Council, which is the regulatory body for the dental profession in Ireland, and which is charged with promoting high standards of professional education and professional conduct among dentists. The Act also provides for the registration of dentists and dental specialists, education and training requirements, fitness to practise procedures, and the creation of auxiliary dental health professions.
The drafting of the Scheme of a new Dental Bill to modernise the Dentists Act has begun within my Department. However priority has had to be given to the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently at Seanad Committee Stage. This Bill provides for amendments to all five health professional regulatory Acts, including the Dentists Act, as a consequence of the transposition of the Modernised Professional Qualifications Directive, and to address a number of other issues.
While work on the Dental Bill is still at the early stages of preparation, considerable work has been undertaken in formulating the policy to underpin it. It includes a provision that certain allied dental health professionals, including Clinical Dental Technicians and Dental Hygienists, will be permitted to work without being supervised by a dentist once they are working within their scope of practise.
The work on the modernisation of the Dentists Act in its entirety will progress once the Regulated Professions Bill has completed its passage through both Houses of the Oireachtas, and has been enacted.