Written Answers. - Dental/Aural Services.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

135 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health the reason, in relation to dental and aural services, the health service regulations limit outpatient public consultant services only to medical card holders; if he will outline the health boards which confine entitlement to medical card holders only; and whether he is considering making these services generally available in the same way as all other outpatient consultant services.

The Health Services Regulations, 1972 (S. I. No. 86 of 1972) provide that outpatient dental, ophthalmic and aural services shall be made available only to persons with full eligibility i.e. medical card holders.

However, under Section 67 (2) of the Health Act 1970, children are also entitled to these services without charge, regardless of eligibility category, in respect of defects noticed at an examination under the child health service.

The basis for these regulations, which apply to all health board areas, is that it would not be appropriate to make routine services of this nature universally available in public hospitals. No change in these arrangements is under consideration at present, particularly having regard to the many demands upon the resources available for the health services.