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Nash Slams Refusal of Essential Dental Care to Vulnerable, Sick and Elderly Patients

18 June 2020

Ballot Paper Photo

Deputy Ged Nash has urgently called on the Minister for Health to respond to reports of dental practices refusing medical cardholders essential treatment due to social distancing and PPE costs.


Deputy Nash said:


“I have recently been contacted by a number of concerned constituents who have been refused dental care at their regular practice due to their medical card status.


“The patients in question were told they could only continue to avail of treatment as a private patient.


“In short, their dental practice claimed that ‘they can no longer accept medical cards as a form of payment at the practice’ as due to ‘new social distancing rules and additional PEE, it no longer covers our cost.’


This has left a number of vulnerable patients in the lurch scrambling to find another dental service or scrap together money for expensive treatments at a time when incomes are already stretched.


The cases raised with me involve patients with a number of conditions – such as diabetes, arthritis and Ehler Danlos syndrome – which require ongoing care, including regularly dental treatment.


“Such dental care – both essential and emergency – would normally be automatically covered for medical cardholders, who are often elderly, those with low incomes or those with a chronic condition.


Nash continued:


“This has grave implications for some 1.6 million medical cardholders across the country, particularly at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.


“Anyone who has ever been to the dentist knows first-hand how essential this service is and the pain associated with an ongoing problem.


“This yet again highlights Fine Gael’s ideological stance to provide medical care on the basis of one's income, rather on the basis of a person's medical need as is the norm in every other EU country bar Ireland.


“It is truly shocking, particularly during a pandemic, that such cases are still emerging. And this is despite me directly raising this issue with the Minister for Health in the Dáil in May.


“I have written to the Minister to seek urgent clarity and a swift response to stop this discrimination against medical cardholders, and I urge anyone else who has been affected to contact me so I can assist with this matter.”