Sinn Fein TD for Meath West Johnny Guirke has slammed the government over the lack of dental care facilities accepting medical card holders in County Meath.
He told Meath Live, ‘Over the last few weeks, I have received many distressing calls from constituents who say they cannot access a dental centre in County Meath because they hold a medical card.
‘We have people in serious pain but unable to get an appointment because no one is willing to take on medical cards.
‘This is a huge problem for a county with a population of 210,000 people. The government website listed 107 dentists for Meath, but none will take on new clients if they hold a medical card.
”Areas like Navan have 31 dentists listed, Trim with 5, Enfield with 2 and all either don’t take medical cards or are fully booked out.
‘Ashbourne (19), Ratoath (10), Dunshaughlin (8), Dunboyne (7), Athboy (1), Bettystown (5), Drogheda (5), Duleek (1) and Kells (13) all listed on the gov.ie and none of which can take a medical card holder.
‘This is totally unacceptable as we have kids needing treatments for fillings, extractions, pain relief or just a simple check up on their teeth.
‘The listing on the Irish dental association website for Dentists in Meath shows 27 available, only 2 were in a position to take on medical card holders, one in Kells and the other listed was actually in Monaghan town.
‘A lot of people are been told that the closest dentist to Meath that will accept medical cards was either Monaghan or Cavan, this is just not good enough.
‘This situation was brought to the Dail in November 2020 when I raised the issue with the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about the fall out between the HSE and the Irish Dental Association.
Guirke added, The government have sat on their hands since then and allowed this to escalate to the brink that if you wake up with a toothache in the morning, you won’t be able to access a dentist.
‘People are facing bills of €50 consultation fees, €120 for extractions and they simply can’t afford this.
‘It’s fourteen months since I raised this serious problem, it was predictable where it would end and I’m afraid it will only get worse unless the Minister for Health steps in to fix the issue.