The new National Oral Health Policy will make dental care worse, not better, according to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly.

The document published last month details the future of dental care in Ireland and promises free treatment for all children up to the age of 16, but scraps school intervention teams.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “At this morning’s Oireachtas Health Committee we were told by the head of the Irish Dental Association that its members were not consulted in any meaningful way or involved in the policy’s formation. Chief Executive Fintan Hourihan said it has left dentists with a feeling of ‘anger and disbelief’.

“It defies logic that professionals expected to carry out a new service, weren’t asked to be part of its creation. If the Health Minister had asked, he would have been told about the many concern’s dentists have.

“For example, there are issues with the part of the plan that promises to set up advanced oral healthcare centres in dental hospitals. There are genuine concern that these centres could be established before the necessary education and training is provided to dentists who’ll work in them. Without this structure in place we’re looking at a shortage of staff down the line.

“Indeed, we already have a problem keeping dentists in this country because we’re not providing an official route to consultancy. As older consultants retire, and younger hopefuls leave the country this will become an even bigger problem.

“Also problematic is the lack of continuous professional development. The RCSI Faculty of Dentistry has made this one of its top priorities. It’s also calling for a dental intern year and more specialist training. If the Health Minister has any sense, he’ll listen to them this time before allowing the matter to get so out of hand”, concluded Deputy Donnelly.