Just a few weeks ago the shocking extent of problems with children’s teeth in the city was revealed. According to Public Health England, the average number of missing teeth for five-year-olds was 4.1 in Portsmouth, higher than the England average of 3.5.
And figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that only 55.3 per cent of under-18s in the city had visited an NHS dentist in the past year.
At the time there were wide spread calls for parents to take responsibility to ensure oral hygiene in their children to make sure they do not suffer with tooth decay later in life.
That is what makes the news that up to 9,000 NHS dental patients will be left without a dental surgery a difficult pill to swallow.
Although sources say that figure could be closer to 20,000.
Colosseum Dental has announced it is to shut three practices in Portsmouth, making a number of staff redundant as well as cutting loose thousands of patients.
NHS dentists in the city are already overstretched. It would be impossible for those already established practices to take on a further 20,000 patients.
And when dentistry is already seemingly low on busy parents’ list of priorities will those who are affected by the closures take the time to travel to the nearest towns which have spaces – Havant and Gosport?
I ronically, this has happened in a city which has a state-of-the-art dental academy at the University of Portsmouth.
Surely there should be an obligation on businesses such as Colosseum Dental – which took over from Southern Dental Group in 2017 – to give more than three months notice to the NHS, which was the case here.
There should be a legal clause for any practice taking on NHS work to give at least a year’s warning before closing to enable patients to find alternatives.
We deserve better than this.