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News / May 1, 2009

Harney announces reductions in fees payable to dentists

by Guy Hiscott

The Minister for Health and Children has decided to reduce professional fees paid to dentists under the HSE Dental Treatment Services Scheme. The reductions in these fees are expected to yield €1.5m in the current year and €2.5m in a full year.

Payments to dentists consist of two elements – a professional fee and an amount in respect of the materials used. The Minister has decided that she will not reduce that part of the fee that relates to materials. The Minister also has decided to apply an outstanding fee adjustment and to reduce the resulting fees by 8%. Accordingly, the reduction in dentists’ fees will on average be of the order of 4.5 %.

Mary Harney announced reductions in the fees payable to certain health professionals on 30 April, in accordance with the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009.

In accordance with the Act, the Department of Health & Children undertook a public consultation process. In addition, oral submissions were made by the main representative bodies for the professions, including the Irish Dental Association.

Submissions were examined by the Department in consultation with the Health Service Executive, the Mental Health Commission and the National Cancer Screening Board, as appropriate, and recommendations made to the Minister.

The Government announced on 3 February that it intended to seek savings of €80 million on a full-year basis through a general reduction of the order of 8% in all professional fees, including those of health professionals.

This was followed by the enactment of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. Section 9 (1) of the Act provides that: ‘The Minister for Health and Children may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, by regulation, reduce, whether by formula or otherwise, the amount or the rate of payment to be made to health professionals, or classes of health professionals, in respect of any services that they render to or on behalf of a health body from the date of the regulation.’