ACTION must be taken by leading health bodies to fix Portsmouth’s dental crisis before it escalates further, two government ministers last night insisted.
Three practices, tending to 9,000 NHS patients in Portsea, Southsea and Paulsgrove, are just days away from closing.
However, NHS England has been unable to say what will replace them.
Fresh fears have now been raised for the future of the area’s remaining surgeries, which could be pushed to the breaking point to cope with the influx of thousands more patients.
Now top Tory MPs, Penny Mordaunt and Caroline Dinenage have demanded urgent action to find replacement providers to take over the practices, due to be axed by Colosseum Dental Limited in July.
Ms Mordaunt said improving the state of the city’s dental services had been a ‘big priority’ for her since becoming Portsmouth North MP nine years ago.
‘This is an absolutely fundamental part of the health service and we need to ensure that provision here is where it needs to be,’ the politician said.
‘This is a vital part of a person’s health care. It’s not just about ensuring you don’t have cavities. Oral health is about diagnosing disease, it’s about treating disease.
‘If this was some other aspect of health care you would not be relaxed about it and we shouldn’t be about this.’
Ms Mordaunt added she had been pressuring NHS England for answers ‘for two weeks’, demanding to know what was being done to bring in new dentists to fill the void and what plans they had to attract new practices into Portsmouth that could take on NHS patients.
‘We have asked all the vital questions and we’re getting some answers back,’ she said.
Caroline Dinenage, health minister, said she had been in contact with health secretary, Matt Hancock over the crisis, which she feared could spread to her constituency in Gosport.
NHS patients in the town have already been struggling to see a dentist for two years, she said.
‘I am concerned that the closure of the dental practices in Portsmouth will further exacerbate the situation in Gosport,’ she added.
The News has approached NHS England for comment.
Those in need of emergency dental treatment should call 111.