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Ministry to subsidise dentists’ offices in remote areas

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Prague, Feb 19 (CTK) – The Czech Health Ministry will financially support the opening of new dentists’ offices in remote areas and smaller towns, Health Minister Adam Vojtech (for ANO) told reporters on Monday.

A special commission to be set up for this purpose will decide on the allocation of the financial support.

Vojtech said he would like to complete the subsidy programme in May, in which a total of 100 million crowns would be allocated within four years.

The ministry will be able to support some 100 applicants with up to 1.2 million crowns per person, while the applicant must cover at least 30 percent of the costs.

There are some 8000 dentists in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million, but more than a half of them work in Prague and regional capitals.

“It is not true that North Bohemia and Moravia are short of dentists, for instance. There is no shortage of them in regional capitals, but primarily in some districts,” Czech Dentists’ Chamber President Roman Smucler said.

Moreover, many dentists are elderly and some 1,500 of them plan to sell their offices. This is why the subsidies programme will also apply to the transfer of dental-care private practices between colleagues.

The stabilisation of the dental care system will last minimally ten years, Smucler said.

The subsidy conditions include at least a five-year operation of a dentist’s office, contracts with at least four health insurers, surgery hours fives days a week with minimally 35 hours weekly.

Within two years, a dentist must register at least 1500 patients, otherwise the subsidy will be cut. The aim is to reach the average number of some 2000 patients per dentist.

According to the Dentists’ Chamber, there are some 8000 active dentists in the Czech Republic, while some 5000 would suffice for the country’s population. However, some 40 percent have their practices in Prague and 53 percent in Prague and other regional capitals.

Citizens, too, can report the lack of dentists in their localities to the ministry and the commission for access to dental care will deal with them.

“We do not have a lack of doctors, but the problem is that they concentrate in large towns,” Vojtech said, adding that municipalities and regions must also help solve the situation, for example, by offering accommodation to doctors.

The Health Ministry launched a similar programme for general practitioners in 2016. There were only two applicants for such subsidies in the first year, but their number was rising to some 20 in the following years, and the programme is to continue, ministry spokeswoman Pavlina Zilova said.

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