In relation to the segment that RTÉ Investigates broadcast today, the Dental Council is providing some supplementary information and feedback in order to help address the important issues raised.
Ms Andreia Funico
Ms Andreia Funico was never registered as a dentist in Ireland. Ms Funico is a Portuguese dentist who sought registration with the Dental Council in circumstances where false certificates of registration with her name on them were in circulation. The Dental Council was fortunate that it was able to deal with this case because Ms Funico had applied for registration and, as a result, the council was able to establish her identity and make contact with her. The Dental Council took action when it became aware of the situation. Ultimately, Ms Funico gave an undertaking not to seek registration or to practice dentistry in Ireland again. As far as the Dental Council is aware, Ms Funico is not presently in Ireland.
Other instances of suspected illegal practice
There have been other cases where the council has had suspicions that people have being practicing illegally that it has not been able to investigate under the powers available to the Dental Council under the Dentists Act, 1985. Dental patients continue to be at risk because of the shortfalls in the regulatory framework. The Dental Council is frustrated with the delays in introducing new legislation.
Current regulatory legislation and framework
The Dentists Act 1985 provides Council with the power to prosecute illegal practise of dentistry but unfortunately does not provide sufficient tools to investigate suspicions, nor does it provide any power to inspect dental practices. Overall, the Act does not provide Council with satisfactory powers to build prosecutable cases in relation to suspected illegal practice.
The Dental Council acknowledges that a number of public bodies have remits that includes engagement with dental practices within the specific remits held by those bodies. The concerns highlighted by RTE Investigates, and which are shared by the Dental Council, cannot be addressed by these other bodies. The Dental Council is strongly of the view that the powers to investigate concerns relating to the practise of dentistry should rest with the Dental Council. In short, the ‘as is’ framework of oversight and regulation is insufficient to protect the public.
Submission Regarding Legislative Change in Dental Regulation
In 2021, the Dental Council submitted its vision for legislative change in dental regulation. This submission, the fifth submission by the Dental Council relating to legislative change since 2008, draws on the experiences of several terms of the Dental Council and reflects significant concerns for public safety.
The submission identifies gaps in the in the overall regulatory framework for dentistry and sets out the steps to be taken to close these gaps. The submission provides a range of solutions and enhancements to the Dentists Act that are based on existing regulatory legislation in Ireland.
The Dental Council shares the Minister’s recently stated view that dentistry in Ireland has in many ways been ignored by Government. The Dental Council welcomes engagement with the Minister in relation to mandatory dental CPD which the Minister recently spoke in favour of, and in relation to the other gaps in the dental regulatory framework as set out in Council’s submission.
7th September 2023