‘Failure to honour’ Magdalene promises

A group of dentists has hit out at what it claims is the Government’s “failure to honour” promises made to Magdalene laundry survivors on medical care.

Dental care provided only entitles the women to “limited and incomplete” treatment that the dental treatment services scheme (DTSS) provides for most medical card holders.

The disclosure in a letter, to the Journal of the Irish Dental Association, is signed by Dr Padraig O’Reachtagain, Dr Maurice Quirke, and Dr Desmond Kennedy.

It states: “It is believed that more than 90% of these women who live in the State already have a medical card.

“This ‘compensation’ or ‘redress’ pales into insignificance when compared to the redress scheme provided for the survivors of institutional abuse through CaraNua. These survivors have all their dental treatment needs catered for.”

The dentists called on the Council of the Irish Dental Association “to publicly disassociate itself” from the scheme and to speak out “on behalf of its members who do not accept the injustice we are expected to support”.

The Department of Health said Magdalene survivors have been prioritised for treatment by the HSE and are receiving “enhanced” care under the DTSS.

This includes a free oral examination, two fillings every calendar year, all extractions, and free emergency dental treatment for relief of pain and sepsis as well as more complex care and treatments including scaling and polishing and additional fillings.

It said Mr Justice Quirke’s recommendations were that Magdalene women receive access to the full range of health services enjoyed by holders of the hepatitis C HAA card.

“It should be noted, however, that Judge Quirke’s report acknowledged the HAA services were reproduced for illustrative purposes; recognised that not all of the HAA services described may be relevant to the Magdalene women; and further acknowledged that the scheme for the Magdalene women would require suitable adaptation,” the department said.

“All of the primary and community health services being made available to Magdalene women are as specified by Judge Quirke.”

Claire McGettrick of the Justice for Magdalenes Research group said Mr Justice Quirke had said that the women should have access to a “comprehensive suite” of healthcare.

“It’s quite a stretch to suggest that the card Magdalene survivors are receiving provides a ‘comprehensive suite’ of healthcare, when entitlements are barely an improvement on the medical card,” she said.

Ms McGettrick welcomed the intervention of the dentists and said it vindicated her group’s position. “We have consistently pointed out that the healthcare provisions outlined under the Act are barely an improvement on the entitlements under the ordinary medical card, which 90% of survivors already have.

“The Government has repeatedly denied this fact. However, our concerns and those of survivors have now been vindicated by members of the dental profession.”


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