DENTAL patients desperately trying to find an NHS dentist in the city could be thrown a lifeline under a council plan to take over from three closing practices.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Liberal Democrat leader, wants Portsmouth City Council to step in and take on Colosseum Dental.
Swiss investment firm-owned Colosseum Dental will close next month – leaving 9,000 people scrambling to find a dentist.
Some patients have signed up to practices on the Isle of Wight and in Hambledon as NHS providers in the city are not accepting new patients.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the council already owned the premises used by Colosseum in Portsea and Paulsgrove, but not the one in Southsea.
He said: ‘I’m asking the council to look at whether we can take those over and run those dentist surgeries and continue with a contract or directly-employ the dentist and staff ourselves.
‘Two of them serve areas with quite a lot of council housing, Portsea and Paulsgrove – the other is in Southsea.
‘We already own the premises they operate out of in Portsea and Paulsgrove.
‘It seems to me there’s significant logic for the council to run them off the private sector contract and take over the contracts with NHS England to provide the NHS dentist cover that people have had in the past.
‘It’s unrealistic to expect the other NHS dentists to pick that up.’
Just one practice contacted by The News said they would take on NHS patients – and another said it would only take on children.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has summoned NHS England bosses to parliament for an urgent debate. He has also invited health secretary Matt Hancock.
Colosseum previously said it had made the decision to shut next month due to ‘recruitment difficulties’.
Patient Emily Spring, 28, from Southsea, told The News: ‘I managed to register with a dentist on the Isle of Wight today but so many other won’t be able to. Tooth pain is one of the most debilitating things I can imagine.
‘This is getting Dickensian now, is it going to take people to start dying of sepsis from tooth infections or becoming homeless because they can’t work or people taking measures into their own hands and removing their own teeth in desperation?’