Around 20,000 NHS dentist patients were left facing difficulties when Colosseum Dental shut three sites in Portsmouth before its contract ran out.
As reported, Bupa opened up its Northern Road site in Cosham to patients as NHS England scrambled to get coverage in the wake of Colosseum’s shock closure due to staffing shortages.
Now the University of Portsmouth’s Dental Academy is edging closer to extending its limited NHS work with a new temporary contract to help out patients left without a dentist.
And NHS England’s head of primary care, in a letter to Portsmouth City Council, said a third unnamed provider may open up two of its sites.
In her letter, Julia Booth, acting head of primary care at NHS England, said: ‘The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy in the south of the city, which is located less than a mile from one of the other former Colosseum practices, has also agreed to deliver a significant amount of general dental care to NHS patients, as part of a temporary contract.
'The existing contract we hold with the Dental Academy, which is part of the University of Portsmouth, is to support the training and education of the dental workforce and to provide a dental service to people who would not necessarily have access to a dentist.'
This covers working with organisations helping homeless people, older people, criminals on probation, and young children.
She added: 'The additional temporary contract the Dental Academy will hold to provide general dental services to more NHS patients requires them to recruit new staff in order to deliver this service.
'We are continuing to work with the Academy so that they can establish this service as quickly as possible.
'We are also working with a third dental care provider who has indicated a willingness to provide additional dental treatment to NHS patients at one, or even two of, their dental surgery sites. We hope to have confirmation about these arrangements shortly.'
NHS chiefs are currently calculating how much cash, if any, needs to be reclaimed from Colosseum after it ended its contract before July 31. The NHS pays upfront for contracted sessions.
Professor Chris Louca, director and head of school at the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, said talks are ongoing with NHS England.
Prof Louca said: ‘We are in discussion with the NHS England around the provision of additional dental services and extra support to patients across the city and have not yet reached a final agreement.’
Long term contracts are now being sought, with people set to be invited to give their views in a consultaion.