NEW long-term dental providers that will take on 20,000 patients in the city after three surgeries suddenly closed this year will be urged set up shop in Portsmouth's most deprived areas, or risk losing the contract.
After Swiss-company Colosseum Dental shut down its practices in Paulsgrove, Portsea and Southsea without warning in July NHS England was left scrambling to find surgeries to take on extra patients.
As a short-term solution Bupa and Perfect Smile are offering additional appointments at their city sites and talks are currently underway to extend the NHS contract of the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, until a long-term provider is found.
At a health and wellbeing board yesterday members agreed long-term contracts should only be offered to providers willing to open surgeries in Paulsgrove and Portsea.
Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'My concern is will there be a dentist in Portsea and will there be a dentist in Paulsgrove as these are two areas of significant deprivation. There are several in Southsea so that's less of a worry.
'Portsea and Paulsgrove are very important so when you are making these contracts out for the long-term will you specify they need to be in those locations?'
Labour Cllr Judith Smyth agreed. She said: 'People who won't do it should not be invited to tender.
'Dental health is so poor in those areas, we have to provide services for people there.'
Julia Booth, the acting head of primary care at NHS England confirmed it would be 'considered' but added: 'Broadly speaking it's for the provider to say but we will set up that that's what we want.'
She also agreed to put pressure on the NHS to allow the extension of the Lake Road Practice in Landport.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: 'The Lake Road surgery - again in an area of deprivation - has wanted to expand and serve more NHS patients. But they are blocked by the NHS who won't allow them to have the vacant rooms where they currently operate, which is clearly mad.'
NHS patients can receive treatment at the North End and Cosham practices of Perfect Smile and the Bupa surgery in Northern Road in Cosham.