A dental clinic in Tenerife has said Irish people are booking appointments and not showing up, in what they suspect is a bid to get around Covid travel restrictions.
Roberta Beccaris, from the Clinica Dental in Tenerife Sur, said they were seeing more than five bookings from Irish people every day.
She said people who genuinely need dental treatment are missing out because of Irish people looking for an “excuse” to come for a holiday.
She said: “What has been happening the last few weeks is we’ve been receiving a lot of emails and phone calls from Ireland.
“All these patients were requesting an email that certified that they had an appointment at our practice.
“This was very unusual because before they were just calling, as we were used to having people who come from abroad – Irish or from the UK – and they never ask for an email of the confirmation and now they started to ask it.
“So we were quite suspicious about it and then what happened, these patients were not turning up. We were waiting for them and they are not coming to the practice.”
The Government has gone to great lengths to clamp down on non-essential international travel in the fight against the pandemic.
The emergence of new strains of the coronavirus, and fears some of them could be resistant to vaccines, has led to even tougher travel restrictions.
Fines for non-essential travel are set to increase from 500 euro to 2,000 euro.
Essential reasons for travelling can include healthcare, and it now appears some people are exploiting this as a loophole.
Ms Beccaris said: “They’re asking to write down that they have an appointment, the date and the time. The day before I send them another email to confirm their appointment, and then they are not showing up.
“All this week we have been having appointments booked. Today we have another two and we don’t know really if they are coming.
“Normally we’re used to having Irish people. Now they’re asking to have this email, or something quite strange.
“Obviously, as they are not turning up, now we understand that it was just an excuse to be able to come here for a holiday.”
She said that other patients are missing out on dental care because of it.
“We are giving these appointments to people that really don’t need our help, instead of offering these appointments to people that are seriously interested in seeing our dentist,” she told RTE’s Today With Claire Byrne.
“Maybe they are in pain. So it’s not just losing the time, it’s also avoiding the possibility to see somebody who is in pain.”
Ms Beccaris said her practice has been seeing up to seven emails and phone calls from Irish people every day, most of them from young people.
“Normally, we have a lot of Irish patients, but they are older. In this case, it’s clear that they are young, they just want to come to Tenerife for a holiday,” she said.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk