I propose to take Questions Nos. 932 and 933 together.
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 independent dental practitioners who have a contract with the HSE. Where a dentist withdraws from the Scheme, a patient may choose to have treatment undertaken by another dentist who participates in the Scheme. The HSE will assist medical card holders in accessing such treatment if required.
Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy, published in April 2019, sets out the new model of care delivery for dental services. It includes proposals for the introduction of packages of oral healthcare for adult medical card holders at different intervals during their life course. The packages will focus on prevention and will include examinations, advice, and preventive therapies. The timeframe for the delivery of the Policy is until 2026 and the roll-out of these packages of care will take place incrementally. A review of the provision of dental services for those eligible for public services is required in the context of the implementation of the Policy and the issue of fees paid to dentists will be considered in that context.
I am aware of the difficulties currently being experienced by dentists in providing care to their patients. My Department has been engaging with dentists throughout the pandemic and is preparing for further engagement on additional measures that might assist the public in accessing oral healthcare during these difficult times.