THE third dental care provider, which has stepped into help Portsmouth patients after thousands were left in the lurch when a chain of practices shut, has been revealed.
Perfect Smile, which has practices in North End and Cosham, has confirmed a temporary contract to give to care to patients whilst NHS England go through the process of finding a permanent contractor after Colosseum Dental shut three sites in the city.
The Swiss-owned company had given notice about its move to shut its surgeries in Paulsgrove, Southsea and Portsea but failed to run the surgeries until its contract ended on July 31.
In a Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting yesterday, acting head of primary care at NHS England Julie Booth confirmed the third contractor as Perfect Smile.
Councillors also questioned Ms Booth on what lessons had been learnt from the crisis which left 20,000 residents without dental provision.
Ms Booth said: ‘When Colosseum gave notice they asked us to keep it confidential because of staff and we didn’t challenge that.
‘I think that is a lesson we have learnt. On reflection we really could have managed it a bit better.’
Bupa opened up its Northern Road practice in Cosham to NHS patients after Colosseum closed in June due to staffing shortages.
A temporary contract with Portsmouth Dental Academy is being ironed out and it is hoped patients will be able to sign up soon.
The contracts are expected to last for 12 months before a permanent provider is appointed next year.
Also speaking at the meeting Siobhan McCurrach from Healthwatch Portsmouth told the committee that the organisation only became aware of the situation after seeing a post on social media.
She said: ‘We came across a post on Facebook and we were contacted by The News.
‘I got straight onto NHS England and got some more information. We then expressed our disappointment but we also asked how we could be involved.
‘We were invited to be on the emergency board and also the procurement board. We are reporting when we hear that there is not enough provisions and people have told us they haven’t been written to at all.’
NHS chiefs are currently calculating how much cash, if any, needs to be reclaimed from Colosseum.