Friday, 7 Aug 2020

Dentist crisis as first city to STOP taking NHS patients emerges

The move by the Swiss-owned Colosseum Dental chain has left thousands of people looking for a new dentist. Bu the NHS website shows there are no places available for new patients in the city with the nearest appointments a ferry ride away in Gosport or a half-hour drive away in Havant. One patient said: “I received a letter saying that I would be provided ongoing care at another surgery but when I contacted them I was told all they could do was put me on a waiting list and 20,000 patients were affected by the closures.

NHS dentistry remains the Cinderella service

Mick Armstrong

“They said Colosseum had made a ‘business decision’ to shut the three surgeries and the staff had been made redundant.”

Colosseum Dental Group is a Europe-wide company owned by investment group Jacobs Holding, based in Switzerland.

The company responsibility for the three Portsmouth surgeries when it took over the Southern Dental group in 2017.

A spokesman for NHS England South East said the number of patients affected by the closure was “around 9,000” and the provider had given three months’ notice for the NHS to find alternatives through other local practices.

He said: “There are more than 20 dental practices open in the Portsmouth area and patients in nine in 10 dental surgeries will not be affected by these changes, while support is being offered for people to find alternative care where that’s needed.”

Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said poorer members of the community would be worst-affected.

He said: “The news that three dental practises in Portsmouth are set to close is deeply concerning.

“The fact that the nearest available spaces according to the NHS website are in Havant and Gosport means that, yet again, the most vulnerable in society will be disproportionately affected.

“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 already plagued by air pollution?

“The Government needs to answer these questions.”

Mr Morgan said the situation raised questions over the use of private organisations to run public services.

He said: “This Government needs to realise that carelessly hacking off bits of our public services and selling it to the highest bidder is not the best way to run a country. I will be raising this matter with the minister responsible over the coming few days.”

Mick Armstrong, chairman of the British Dental Association, said: “Years of under-funding and failed contracts have taken their toll.

“We are seeing practices struggling to remain sustainable as vacancies go unfilled, and over a million patients left 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.”

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