Plans to move GP practice and dentist surgery into former Southsea Debenhams are delayed

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PLANS to move a GP practice and dental surgery into the former Debenhams store in Southsea have been delayed by difficulties in completing the sale of the land.

A full business case for the relocation of Trafalgar Medical Group Practice to the Palmerston Road site, which was first revealed in 2020, has already been approved but negotiations with landowner National Regional Property Group have slowed in recent months.

Fears had been raised that the project, which also involves building more than 130 flats, had stalled but Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board's acting director of primary care, Sylvia Macey, said this was not the case.

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Debenhams, Palmerston Road, Southsea.     Picture: Chris MoorhouseDebenhams, Palmerston Road, Southsea.     Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Debenhams, Palmerston Road, Southsea. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

'There are talks ongoing,' she said at Thursday's meeting of the Portsmouth health scrutiny panel. 'Everybody has agreed it's a great idea and everything has been agreed from our point of view.

'The developer is still keen to progress but there's been a slight hiccup with the sale of the land but talks are under way.'

Planning permission for the redevelopment of the former department store, which closed in January 2020, was approved by the city council in November last year.

Under these plans, the practice would take over a purpose-built facility taking up about half of the ground floor of the building, sharing some space with a yet-to-be-identified dental surgery and a pharmacy.

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The remainder of the ground floor would be used for retail space.

It is hoped the move would help tackle shortages of GP and NHS dentist appointments in the city with recent figures showing Portsmouth had the fewest number of doctors per head of population of anywhere in the country.

There are similar issues with access to NHS dentist appointments with a 'cataclysmic' fall in numbers in recent years.

NHS data, showed that by the end of March last year, just 90 NHS dentists were operating in the city, a 26 per cent fall compared to the previous year - a sharper decline than any other local authority area.

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In the summer of 2019 Colosseum Dental closed three practices in Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove, leaving about 20,000 people without an NHS dentist. So far not all that capacity has been replaced in the city.

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