Portsmouth's dental crisis could get worse as Brexit 'uncertainty' drives away European dentists
UNCERTAINTY over Britain’s delayed divorce with the European Union is threatening to worsen Portsmouth’s dental crisis, a leading health boss has warned.
Phil Gowers, chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Dental Committee – which supports the about 900 dentists across the region – has said Brexit is putting off European practitioners from applying for jobs in Portsmouth.
Speaking to The News, the experienced dentist from Alverstoke, said: ‘The crisis that we have now is going to get worse soon.
‘We have got 80 dentists trying to get on the books at the moment.
‘But people from Europe aren’t coming because they’re not sure what we’re going to do.’
Some 9,000 people will be left without an NHS dentist after Swiss-owned Colosseum Dental chain announced last month it was closing three of its practices in Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove.
But Mr Gowers said the city had been facing a shortfall in the number of dental staff working in the city – one that European workers could have helped to fill.
Now he has taken his fight to Westminster where he and the chairman of the British Dental Association, Mick Armstrong, met with Portsmouth South MP Stephen.
The pair were lobbying the Labour MP to put more pressure on the government to stump up extra cash for dental budgets as well as tackle the situation in Portsmouth.
Mr Gowers said government had to act to secure new dentists if it were to prevent the health crisis from deepening further.
He said: ‘This is still a hugely troubling situation. We’ve had messages from some people saying “don’t worry, everything is fine”. Well it’s not.
‘We need to have more of a quick reaction from the government to help the commissioners to make a more viable, long-term solution.’
All the Colosseum Dental sites were due to close by the end of this month.
However, the company has already shut its base in Paulsgrove.
On Wednesday, news broke the firm was considering closing its practice at the John Pounds Centre, in Portsea, earlier than expected.
The issue shocked Mr Morgan and NHS England, who described the unannounced closures as ‘unsatisfactory’.