Kerry dental care service in crisis, TD claims

Deputy Pa Daly: “Preventive care is non-existent for public patients”

A MAJOR crisis in the dental care service has arisen in Kerry with some people in need of attention facing horrific situations, a local TD has said.

Deputy Pa Daly said the crisis must be dealt with as a matter of urgency by the government as more than 50 per cent of dentists in Kerry have left the medical card dental scheme in the last five years. 

“This crisis is underlined by a 48 per cent collapse in spending for Kerry over the past three years,” he said.

“All of this has placed undue pressure on the HSE oral health with dental and orthodontic waiting lists spiralling out of control.  The number of patients seen by HSE oral health in Kerry collapsed last year by 63 per cent,” Deputy Daly pointed out.

He said primary children will be heading into third year in secondary school before they can have their sixth class dental exam. 

“While Covid-19 is clearly to blame for some of this delay, it is inexcusable that so many children will now face painful and difficult orthodontic care after waiting too long for standard examinations,” the Sinn Fein TD stated.

He said he is hearing from too many people who cannot access public dental care in Kerry and are being sent to Limerick for treatment. 

“Preventive care is non-existent for public patients. The Irish Dental Association highlighted their concerns recently, stating that difficulty in accessing dental treatment contributes to poor oral health and greater healthcare costs overall,” the Kerry TD said.

The burden of this disproportionately falls on lower income groups, especially those who rely on medical cards, he pointed out.

 “Dentists have expressed ethical as well as practical concerns about unilateral cuts to the dental scheme imposed during austerity. This devastated dentists’ ability to deliver quality care to medical card patients,” Deputy Daly remarked.