Portsmouth health board to look into legal powers to ensure 'most deprived areas' are not left without NHS dentists
CONCERNED members of the city's health board will look into using legal powers to demand new dental practices are set up in two of the city's 'most deprived areas.'
Politicians and health officials slammed the attitude of NHS England after it failed to confirm whether Paulsgrove and Portsea would be prioritised when providing new city dental services.
It comes after Swiss-company Colosseum Dental shut down its three practices in Portsmouth without warning in July last year – leaving 20,000 patients without an NHS dentist.
Following this board members had requested the new provision was based in Paulsgrove and Portsea due to the levels of deprivation there.
Speaking at a health and wellbeing board meeting council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'We know we have dentists who want to provide there. I think we need to use this body to make it very clear those communities need a service.
'I don't think we should leave it there. We should push further. We should formally object and stop the contracts if there is no guarantee that services will be provided in those areas.
'We need to know what power we have. We can use whatever legal powers we have to stop the NHS removing dentist services from those deprived areas.'
Innes Richens, chief operating officer of the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), agreed. He said: 'From the Portsmouth CCG's perspective we would support that.
'The other suggestions I have are to seek an audience with the relative executive and NHS England as well. In terms of other powers I would need to go away and look at that.'
NHS England previously confirmed it would seek to provide one new practice in the north of the city and one in the south.
But the city's cabinet member for health, Cllr Matthew Winnington, believed this was 'not good enough.'
'They have said either it is going to be north of the M27 which includes Paulsgrove but it could be Drayton or south of the M27 which includes Portsea but could be Anchorage Park,' he said.
The board agreed to write to NHS England to secure an audience with them first.