PORTSMOUTH is facing a dental health care ‘crisis’ after it was revealed three of the city’s NHS surgeries would be shutting.
Colosseum Dental is closing three practices across Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove next month, leaving about 20,000 people without an NHS Dentist.
The move comes as the NHS website shows no places available for new patients in Portsmouth, with the nearest spaces available a ferry ride away in Gosport or a half-hour drive away in Havant.
The News understand that a number of staff have been made redundant as a result of the decision, which has been branded ‘appalling’ by politicians.
The sites affected include Pauslgrove Dental Practice, in Allaway Avenue, Southsea Dental Practice, in Victoria Road North, and Portsea Dental Practice in the John Pounds Centre.
One patient, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I received a letter saying that I would be provided ongoing care at another surgery but when I contacted them I was told all they could do was put me on a waiting list and 20,000 patients were affected by the closures.
‘They said Colosseum had made a 'business decision' to shut the three surgeries and the staff had been made redundant.’
Colosseum Dental Group is a Europe-wide company owned by investment group Jacobs Holding, based in Switzerland.
It gained responsibility for the three Portsmouth surgeries it is now closing when it took over the Southern Dental group in 2017.
Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said poorer members of the community would be worst-affected.
‘The news that three dental practises in Portsmouth are set to close is deeply concerning,’ he said.
‘This now means that 20,000 people in our community will be left without access to dental care.
‘The fact that the nearest available spaces according to the NHS website are in Havant and Gosport means that, yet again, the most vulnerable in society will be disproportionately affected.
‘How will poorer families pay for the additional transport costs? How will single parents get the time off work to travel the extra distance? What will the additional environmental cost be for our city already plagued by air pollution? The Government needs to answer these questions.’
Mr Morgan said the situation raised questions over the use of private organisations to run public services.
He added: ‘This government needs to realise that carelessly hacking off bits of our public services and selling it to the highest bidder is not the best way to run a country. I will be raising this matter with the minister responsible over the coming few days.’
Colosseum was unable to confirm how many people had been made redundant.
A spokeswoman for the company said: ‘It was with regret and disappointment that Colosseum Dental UK has made the very difficult decision to close a small number of practices in the south-east.
‘This is due to long-standing and ongoing challenges in dentist recruitment, which makes it increasingly difficult to continue to provide the very highest standard of care to our patients, to which the company aspires.’
NHS England said Colosseum had given three months’ notice and that the NHS locally was finding alternatives through other practices for affected patients.
NHS England added only 9,000 people had been affected by the closures.
A spokesman said: ‘There are more than 20 dental practices open in the Portsmouth area and patients in nine in 10 dental surgeries will not be affected by these changes, while support is being offered for people to find alternative care where that’s needed.’
Any patient who needs emergency dental care can get it by calling NHS 111, when they will be offered an appointment at the nearest available practice.
Jacobs Holding and NHS England have been approached for comment.