HEALTH bosses have been called to attend an urgent debate in parliament to discuss Portsmouth’s dental care crisis.
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, has demanded officials from NHS England – the government body responsible for assigning dental contracts – to attend a hearing in Westminster.
It comes following the revelation that three of the city’s NHS dental surgeries were to close next month, affecting at least 9,000 people.
The decision was taken by health provider Colosseum Dental, a company owned by a Swiss investment firm, following ‘recruitment difficulties’.
However city Labour leader, Mr Morgan said the move was unacceptable and will be hosting an emergency summit in which he has written to health secretary, Matt Hancock urging him to attend.
Mr Morgan said: ‘Not one, not two, but three surgeries are set to close in our city. When there are so many concerns around about oral health and access to local services, the consequences of this latest development will be detrimental to local residents.
‘Portsmouth people shouldn’t have to travel long distances to receive vital treatment. I will not stand for this and take concerns being raised with me very seriously.
‘There has been a serious lack of communication from NHS England and Colosseum Dental. I find it deeply concerning that patients and local community leaders were not informed earlier in this process.
‘The dissemination of information has been substandard, and I hope that frank, open discussions at the summit will rectify this.’
Most of Portsmouth’s remaining dental practices have already confirmed they won’t be taking any new NHS patients meaning people will have to travel as far as Gosport or Havant for treatment.
And although NHS England said only 9,000 people would be affected by the closures of surgeries in Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove, politicians like Mr Morgan fear as many as 20,000 people could ultimately be affected.
Mr Morgan added: ‘You might wonder if some had hoped no-one would notice three vital healthcare providers shutting their doors for the last time in our city.
‘The time for complacency is over. I look forward to discussions with NHS England, the health secretary and others in order to safeguard dental services for the people of Portsmouth.’