New NHS dental contracts to be awarded in Portsmouth this month after 3 practices closed last year
CONTRACTS for new dental provision in Portsmouth are set to be awarded – but concerns remain they will not be located in deprived areas.
After Swiss-company Colosseum Dental shut down its three city practices without warning in July last year around 20,000 patients were left without an NHS dentist.
Some temporary dental care was provided by Bupa and Perfect Smile practices but NHS England has now confirmed it will award permanent contracts by the end of July – following delays caused by the pandemic.
In a letter to the city's health, wellbeing and scrutiny panel (Hosp), dental senior commissioning manager for the south east, Nick Spence, said: ‘We have received and evaluated bids for contracts to provide general dental services in the city and following this process have identified preferred bidders.
‘There has been a delay in awarding the contracts due to managing the response to Covid-19 but we are now continuing the process and aim to award contracts by the end of July.’
He also detailed how the providers could take longer than the expected three to six month period to start operating due to the pandemic.
Mr Spence added: ‘The timeline for contract start is as yet unknown and cannot be determined until discussions have taken place with the preferred bidders and Covid-19 impacts are understood.’
As previously reported Portsmouth city councillors demanded replacements must be found in Paulsgrove and Portsea.
Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We want the offer to be location specific. What we want is something that is in Paulsgrove and Portsea as those are the communities that have lost dentists.
‘It's no good just adding provision in Cosham and Southsea that already have dentists, meaning people from deprived areas have to travel to get there.'
Chairman of Hosp, Cllr Chris Attwell, added: ‘It is good news that we will have a resolution by the end of July as we move forward and recover from the last few months.
‘The locations will be a concern, we have always said we want dentistry provision in the more deprived areas.’
NHS England has previously said there will be dental provision in locations north and south of the M27.