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News / February 5, 2009

Taoiseach cuts State fees for dentists by 8%

by Guy Hiscott

The Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen TD, has announced expenditure savings through a general reduction of the order of 8% for all professional fees, including those paid to dentists.

This estimated saving of €80 million across dentistry, medicine, law, pharmacy, chiropody and optical services is to help the Government reach its target of achieving €2 billion in savings this year.

The Taoiseach stated: ‘The Government is committed to working with all stakeholders to confront the challenges this country faces in a global recession. We will provide the necessary hope and direction, and we will take the difficult decisions now in the interests of the country and our people.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the intention was to cut payments to those professionals administering services to patients under the medical card scheme and other such schemes.

In a press release issued the same day, the Taoiseach stated he regretted that it was not possible for the unions to agree the proposals for the reduction in the public service pay roll before the announcement was made.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the IDA, said it was regrettable that the changes hadn’t been flagged in advance with his members. He said the current payments to dentists who treat medical card patients do not actually cover the cost of treatment and this had led to an exodus of dentists from the medical card scheme.

‘Unfortunately it is likely to cause an increase in the numbers leaving the scheme, which is going to have consequences for patients,’ said Mr Hourihan. ‘This should be seen for what it is – which is a further rationing of services for those most in need and those who can least afford it.’