THE NHS is calling on health groups to attend fornightly meetings to tackle Portsmouth's dental care crisis - with three practices due to close next month.
Colosseum Dental, a company owned by a Swiss investment firm, is set to close the practices tending to 9,000 NHS patients in Portsea, Southsea, and Paulsgrove on Wednesday July 31.
The move has led to NHS England, which commisions dental services, to arrange an series of emergency meetings to arrange replacement services.
The Chairman of Healthwatch Portsmouth, Roger Batterbury, who will be attending the meetings, has promised to ‘shout loudly’ and ‘work tirelessly' to ensure the meetings find a solution to the crisis.
He said: ‘Healthwatch Portsmouth will work with NHSE to secure a swift conclusion and fast procurement of permanent dental services in Portsmouth.
‘We welcome any comments, concerns or suggestions from the people of Portsmouth, please get in touch with us.’
Several remaining dental practices in Portsmouth have already confirmed they will not be taking any new NHS patients, meaning people will have to travel as far as Gosport or Havant for treatment.
MPs across the affected areas have put pressure on NHS England to ensure patient care is not disrupted, with one MP saying there has been ‘a serious lack of communication’ from NHS England and Colosseum Dental.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said: ‘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.’
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, said she had been pressuring NHS England for answers ‘for two weeks.’
She said: ‘We have asked all the vital questions and we’re getting some answers back.’
Caroline Dinenage, health minister, said she had been in contact with the 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.
Healthwatch Portsouth, part of a nationwide network that provides direct public oversight of the NHS, will provide feedback at the Healthwatch Portsmouth Board Public Meeting at the Frank Sorrell Centre, Prince Albert Road, Portsmouth, at 6pm on Thursday June 27.