The Irish Dental Association (IDA) is calling for a major recruitment drive for dentists in the public dental service.

The association believes that ‘inadequate staffing levels’ are failing children who are waiting up to seven or eight years for their first dental screening – and sometimes more.

It is encouraging the government to up their employment of 300 dentists by 50% or 150 dentists if the service is to deliver its programme of care for children and other vulnerable groups.

IDA proposals

Chief executive of the IDA Fintan Hourihan says that while the IDA has a range of recommendations for the government for Budget 2018, its key proposals are the introduction of a recruitment campaign for the PDS and reform of the Med 2 scheme.

He states: ‘The situation with children and oral examinations is akin to a lottery and that cannot be allowed to continue any longer. The IDA is calling on the Minister for Health to direct the HSE to urgently commence a recruitment campaign to bring staffing to the required levels.

‘We estimate that half a billion euros worth of support to patients and their families covered by the medical card and PRSI dental schemes have been lost by government cuts since 2010.

‘We now need to start reversing the damage done by these cuts in state supports towards accessing dental care.

‘Expansion of the Med 2 Scheme will generate increased access and attendance, improve dental health and, ultimately bolster economic activity and returns to the exchequer.’

The IDA’s Pre-Budget 2018 submission can be found at www.dentist.ie.