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Dentists facing 'despair and panic' in plea for help

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Mr Hourihan said it was disappointing dentists had not received a similar level of support given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions, especially given dentists receive no capitation funding from the State

Mr Hourihan said it was disappointing dentists had not received a similar level of support given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions, especially given dentists receive no capitation funding from the State

Mr Hourihan said it was disappointing dentists had not received a similar level of support given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions, especially given dentists receive no capitation funding from the State

A special "kickstart" package for dentists who have seen their incomes dramatically collapse during the Covid-19 crisis is being urged by the profession.

In a letter addressed to Health Minister Simon Harris and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Irish Dental Association (IDA) chief executive Fintan Hourihan said that he cannot overstate "the sense of despair and panic in the dental profession at present".

"In normal times, 83pc of spending on dentistry is out of pocket rather than paid for by the State - now, dentists' incomes are down by over 90pc on average during the Covid-19 pandemic as routine dentistry has been prohibited and emergency care cannot be provided in many cases due to unavailable or overly expensive PPE and other requirements," he wrote.

Mr Hourihan said it was disappointing dentists (inset) had not received a similar level of support given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions, especially given dentists receive no capitation funding from the State.

Isolated

"Medics and pharmacists have, quite rightly, been offered extensive support from the Government in order to continue to operate in such challenging circumstances," he wrote.

"However, dentists have been left utterly isolated."

The IDA is urging the Government to consider a special kickstart package for dentistry, and has proposed a number of measures.

It wants the Government to consider the provision of financial support to enable dentists to source PPE, which is now required and mandated by the Dental Council, and also to make whatever other structural changes may be needed to their clinics.

It is also calling for tax relief on private health insurance for dental treatments.

A response was sought from both the departments of Health and Finance.