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Written Answers. - Dental Service.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 446. Mr. Dennehy Information on John Dennehy Zoom on John Dennehy  asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan  the progress which has been made in resolving the dispute between her Department and dentists over the operation of the dental treatment benefits scheme. [24797/02]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan Efforts to resolve the dispute between my Department and the Irish Dental Association have continued since the commencement of the association's action of advising dentists to impose increased charges on patients in breach of their contractual arrangements under the scheme.

[1179]In the absence of a resolution, my Department has ceased to accept claims from dentists who were not prepared to adhere to the contractual arrangements in early August. However, the scheme continues to operate and patients continue to be treated by dentists who were prepared to adhere to their contracts.

My concern throughout this dispute is to ensure protection for insured workers seeking basic dental treatment under the scheme. Efforts to resolve the dispute are continuing, but so far it has not been possible to reach agreement on a mechanism which would afford the necessary level of protection for these workers.

My officials are available for further discussion with the association to try and find a basis for resolution of the dispute and I am hopeful that such discussions can take place in the near future. In the meantime, insured workers have been advised through the newspapers to check that their dentist is not imposing increased charges prior to starting treatment. They have also been advised that, where dentists offer to treat people as private patients, this is outside the terms of the [1180] dental benefit scheme and the Department will not be in a position to refund any costs arising.

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