Dentists ‘need kickstart package’ to overcome coronavirus

A special “kickstart” package to save dentists from the impact of the coronavirus crisis is needed, a representative organisation in Ireland said.

Incomes are down by over 90% on average during the pandemic as routine dentistry has been prohibited and emergency care cannot be provided in many cases, due to unavailable or overly expensive personal protective equipment, the Irish Dental Association added.

Chief executive Fintan Hourihan said it was disappointing that dentists had not received a level of support similar to that given to the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

“Medics and pharmacists have, quite rightly, been offered extensive support from the Government in order to continue to operate in such challenging circumstances.

“However, dentists have been left utterly isolated.”

He said oral health was vitally important for overall health and a significant proportion of the population cannot access this care because so many dentists are unable to open their practice doors.

“This is unacceptable.”

He added: “The key for dentists is that there needs to be some measure of confidence that they will be able to resume viable practice in the near future.

“The association is urging the Government to consider a special kickstart package for dentistry.”

One dentist closed his practice, providing emergency telephone consultations and issuing prescriptions, as he could not source appropriate PPE to protect patients, staff and the wider public from further spread of Covid 19.

He said: “At this point I had to lay off all my employees and my self-employed associates had no work.”

Emergency Covid-19 unemployment benefit provides 350 euros per week which covers about 15% of the remaining fixed/semi-fixed costs for the practice.

The anonymous practitioner said: “Having laid off all my staff and closed the practice I still have around 9,000 euro per month of outgoing practice payments to be met.

“On top of this I have my own personal living costs like mortgage, utilities, health insurance, food for my family.

“I do not have cash reserves.”

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