DENTISTS HAVE PASSED a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Stephen Donnelly as one in six people are now waiting over three months for an appointment.
A survey from the Irish Dental Association also shows that more than half of patients are being forced to wait longer than three months for specialist care for their teeth, such as orthodontic and oral surgery.
It comes as dentists gather in Kilkenny this weekend for their annual conference.
Other findings include that more than half of the 363 dentists surveyed have tried to hire a dentist in the past 12 months with almost 60% of those unable to find a suitable candidate to fill the role.
IDA President Eamon Croke said frustrations came to the fore at a pre-conference AGM where dentists voted no confidence in Donnelly.
“Our membership is beyond frustrated at the endless broken promises and false dawns by the Minister and his Department,” Croke said.
“The recent vote of no confidence in the Minister by dentists shows how broken their trust is in a system and service that has no capacity or seen any meaningful commitment to reform.”
Major concern has been expressed at how the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) which allows free services for adults over 16 who have a medical card.
According to the survey, 80% of dentists who currently hold a DTSS contract say they are no longer able to take on or see new medical card patients – 93% of dentists say that they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form.
“The fact that an unprecedented 93% of dentists say that they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form even with the promise of a new scheme is indicative of a model which is not fit for purpose and directly impacts on the most vulnerable in our society,” Croke said.
Without action from politicians, patients will “continue to shoulder the burden of a system crumbling under decades of inaction and neglect”, Croke added.
“The Minister himself said this week that the state has had a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to dentistry and oral health.
“Our question to the Minister and his officials today is what it will take to open their eyes to the scale and urgency of the crisis that they choose to ignore so that dental health is finally recognised as an integral part of general health.”
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