- Published: Thursday, 13 June 2019 07:44
- Written by News Editor
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Just a week after hosting world leaders for the ceremonies commemorating D-Day, the City of Portsmouth is once more in the news, with the closure of three dental practices leaving ‘thousands without access to NHS treatment’. Colosseum Dental Group, which is owned by an investment company based in Switzerland, is closing the practices next month.
According to a report in The Times, up to 20,000 residents of Portsmouth will be without a dentist when a chain of practices closes its doors next month. With no surgeries accepting adult NHS patients, the nearest practices are in Gosport, which is a ferry-ride away, or Havant, a half-hour drive away, according to the NHS website.
The BDA said that “years of underfunding and failed contracts have taken their toll”, leaving practices struggling to recruit staff, and communities from Devon to Cumbria having difficulty getting access to dental care. Its research has highlighted 13 towns and cities where no dental practices were registering new adult patients, including Plymouth and Barrow-in-Furness. The Association has also calculated that more than a million new patients had tried and failed to find a surgery last year.
Estimates of the number of patients affected vary. Local sources have put the figure at 20,000 but NHS England suggested that it would be closer to 9,000. Colosseum Dental blamed the closures on “longstanding and ongoing challenges in dentist recruitment”.
Mick Armstrong, the BDA’s chairman, told the newspaper: “We are seeing practices struggling to remain sustainable as vacancies go unfilled and over a million patients are unable to secure an appointment. NHS dentistry remains the Cinderella service and this is the latest evidence that its future can no longer be guaranteed.”
Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said that poorer members of the community would be worst hit. “The news that three dental practices in Portsmouth are set to close is deeply concerning,” he said. “How will poorer families pay for the additional transport costs? How will single parents get the time off work to travel the extra distance? What will the additional environmental cost be for our city, which is already plagued by air pollution? The government needs to answer these questions.” He added that the situation raised questions over the use of private organisations to run public services.
A spokesman for NHS England South East refuted the figures, saying: “There are more than 20 dental practices open in the Portsmouth area and patients at nine in ten dental surgeries will not be affected by these changes, while support is being offered for people to find alternative care where it is needed.”
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