Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (762, 780, 783, 920, 955, 976)

Noel Grealish

Question:

762. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health if additional funding for PPE is being provided to dental practices that cater for medical card patients; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some dental practices are refusing to take medical card patients as they have not received adequate PPE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26286/20]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

780. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26355/20]

View answer

Willie O'Dea

Question:

783. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health his plans to deliver on the promise that dentists in independent practice would be provided with personal protective equipment; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the fact dentists have to finance the additional PPE costs, over 200 dentists have decided to resign from the medical card scheme since the start of 2020 with serious consequences for their former patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26363/20]

View answer

Marian Harkin

Question:

920. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Health the supports in place for dentists who were promised they would be provided with PPE in early May 2020 and have not received same and are financing the additional costs themselves (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26986/20]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

955. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised by dentists in relation to the lack of provision of personal protective equipment for dentists in independent practice; his plans to address rising costs for dentists which have led to many withdrawing dental service which is negatively impacting upon children and special needs patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27167/20]

View answer

Joe Carey

Question:

976. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health the measures he has taken to address the concerns of the dental sector in relation to the increased costs of dental care created by Covid-19 especially personal protective equipment; the discussions that have taken place with the dental sector regarding changes to the current medical card scheme and also the problems facing children, special care and other patients who access care from the HSE Community Dental Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27276/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 762, 780, 783, 920, 955 and 976 together.

I am aware of the difficulties that the current Covid-19 pandemic poses for the dental profession. My Department, in conjunction with the HSE, is examining the issue of the provision of PPE across all parts of the health service, including health service contractors.

The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental care free of charge to medical card holders aged 16 and over. These services are provided by over 1,400 independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. I understand that since the beginning of March 149 dentists have withdrawn from the DTSS and that 36 new applications are being processed. I expect due process to be followed in respect of any withdrawal from the terms of a DTSS contract, in particular regarding an appropriate period of notice. I also expect dentists to continue to honour their ethical and contractual obligations to patients during the notice withdrawal period, to either provide a service or to ensure that patients are referred to another dentist who will provide a service. The HSE will assist medical card holders in accessing such treatment, if required.

The DTSS will need to be revised in order to align it with modern evidence on oral health needs and provision of dental services. My Department is committed to reviewing the provision of dental care for those eligible for public services and will engage with representatives of the dental profession in this regard.

I am aware of the delays in accessing some services provided by the HSE, caused in part by the necessary concentration of resources at managing the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, I understand that the HSE expect most services to return to normal in due course.