Portsmouth health boss demands new surgery opens to end 'incredibly frustrating' dental woes in city

PORTSMOUTH’S health watchdog has urged that a forthcoming new dental practice should be opened as soon as possible to ease the ‘incredibly frustrating’ problem with dentists in the city.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 4:55 am
A fresh plea has been made for a new dental surgery to be opened in Cosham to help ease the city's incredible frustrating problems with finding appointments for NHS dentists.: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Healthwatch Portsmouth says it has spent two years looking closely at dentistry in Portsmouth, ever since Colosseum closed three surgeries in the city in August 2019.

This week Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt met health minister Maria Caulfield asking for ‘urgent action’ to help patients left in ‘extreme pain’ but with no dentist to help.

Now the chairman of Healthwatch Portsmouth, Roger Batterbury, has increased pressure on officials and demanded a long-awaited new dental practice is opened in Cosham.

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Healthwatch Portsmouth is a group which represents patients on plans and changes to health care in the city. Pictured is: Roger Batterbury, vice chairman for Healthwatch Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (170467-9160)

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Mr Batterbury said some of the poorest families were still struggling to book appointments.

‘We have worked with the NHS Wessex Dental Commissioning Committee, providing feedback from patients’ stories about their daily phone calls to find a dentist in the city over the last two years,’ he said.

‘Patients have really struggled to find a dentist who would take on new NHS patients, even though the Portsmouth-based dental surgeries’ details that are posted on NHS Choices website state that they are taking patients on.

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‘This incredibly frustrating situation has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic which further reduced the availability of NHS dental appointment slots.

‘We have been regularly contacting the NHS Dental Commissioning Committee asking for news of when the third of three dental surgeries, that had been commissioned to start offering NHS appointments earlier this year, will finally open in the Cosham area of the city.’

Healthwatch Portsmouth previously called for NHS dental commissioning to be handled at a more local level when it spoke to Hampshire and Isle of Wight health system leaders earlier in the year.

It’s hoped that this will now happen from April 2022, Healthwatch said, when the Hampshire and Isle of Wight integrated care service takes over responsibility from NHS England for commissioning NHS dental services in their area.

However, the charity has warned there is still a ‘lack of provision’ in the city for NHS appointments, despite NHS England offering to commission dental surgeries to provide to provide additional surgeries outside of core working hours.

Healthwatch said that so far, ‘only dental surgeries in Alton and Basingstoke have taken up NHS England’s offer to provide more NHS dental appointments in this region for patients who have not been able to register as a patient with a dentist’.

‘Travelling to attend NHS appointments in these locations could prove challenging for Portsmouth residents who rely on public transport,’ a spokesman added.

The Department of Health and Social Care insisted dental services in the area were recovering.

A spokesman said: ‘Dental practices have been able to deliver their full range of face-to-face care since June 2020 and urgent care is back to pre-pandemic levels thanks to the hard work of staff.

‘We are working closely with the NHS so more patients can be seen while minimising infection risks.’

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