NHS says Portsmouth dental contracts will be awarded in next few months as data shows number of dentists in city has dropped by third

Dentist. John Giles/PA WireDentist. John Giles/PA Wire
Dentist. John Giles/PA Wire
NEW dental contracts have been promised by the NHS for this year after figures revealed that the city has seen the number of dentists drop by a third in two years.

There has been a 32.3 per cent drop in the number of NHS dentists in the Portsmouth CCG area between 2018/19 to 2019/20.

It follows the closure of Colosseum Dental Group in July last year when it shut down its three city practices without warning.

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However, outside Portsmouth, the South East Hampshire CCG patch – Havant and neighbouring areas – saw a 54 per cent drop and in Fareham and Gosport CCG, the number of dentists dropped by 20 per cent.

Neither NHS England, the CCGs nor the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) could provide a reason for this decrease.

Temporary dental care in Portsmouth has been provided by Bupa and Perfect Smile practices but NHS England said new contracts will be awarded in the next few months after a delay in the procurement process due to Covid-19.

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An NHS South East spokesperson said: ‘We have continued to work hard to secure new dental suppliers in Portsmouth after the Colosseum Dental Group terminated their three NHS contracts last year.

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‘While the pandemic has impacted this we are confident of awarding new contracts during the autumn.’

The team at Healthwatch Portsmouth have been following the dentists issue closely and worked with Procurement NHS South and Central and West Commissioning Support Unit during the NHSE dental procurement process.

Mr Batterbury said: ‘Healthwatch Portsmouth have been and are extremely worried and concerned at the reduction of NHS dentists in the city.

‘This is an issue we have followed over the last year especially since a previous company suddenly left. Many local people contacted us and made their thoughts and feelings clear to us about the sudden loss of NHS dentists. This spurred us on to get a seat at the right table where the real decisions are made.

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‘We hope there will be good news very soon on new NHS dentists and dental providers in the south and north of the city.

‘This will greatly help with the worrying figures showing a decline in the number of NHS dentists in the city which we feel must reflect our dreadful situation caused by services being very unexpectedly and suddenly lost.’

Neil Carmichael, chair of the ADG, added: ‘The figures are just the latest proof that the number of dentists working in the NHS is plummeting in many of the areas where they are most needed.

‘In large parts of the country, dentists are deserting the NHS and it is the poorest patients who are often paying the price.’

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