Portsmouth dental crisis plunges to new depths as sale of city centre practice stalls leaving patients in ‘limbo’

The {my}dentist practice in Kingston Crescent, North End, was due to be purchased by firm Astradent.

But now, in the latest chapter in the city’s dentistry debacle,the Kingston Crescent hub has been closed since May, leaving patients stranded and unable to see a dentist for weeks.

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Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 160222-11)

A spokeswoman from {my}dentist insisted the sale had not collapsed and that franchise bosses were hopeful it would be completed ‘very soon’, with patients being transferred to the new owners.

The company added people in desperate need of ‘emergency treatment’ could arrange to go to its neighbouring practices elsewhere in the city.

But patients have today claimed such an arrangement is not in place and that when they have contacted other {my}dentist practices locally they have instead been told to go call NHS 111.

One 36-year-old police officer from Stamshaw, who is with {my}dentist’s site in North End, was outraged by the situation, saying he had been repeatedly ‘fobbed off’ by the company.

External images of the dentist on Kingston Crescent.

Speaking to The News, the furious officer said he had been left in ‘the worst pain of his life’ for days after a filling cracked.

When he approached {my}dentist on May 20, he found the practice was deserted. After days of waiting, he was finally able to get a temporary filling – which is now crumbling after more than a month.

‘This is the most pain I have ever been in,’ the officer said. ‘I was in excruciating pain and urgently needed the dentist, but I was fobbed off, saying I was on their urgent list for when Astradent took over and told me to call 111.

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External images of the dentist on Kingston Crescent.
Photos by Alex Shute

‘When you ring 111 they then search across the places in Portsmouth but there’s nothing. We’re a dental desert in Portsmouth.

‘After three days I eventually got an emergency appointment in Fareham – no thanks to {my}dentist.

‘Now I’ve been left with a temporary filling which has largely crumbled away.

‘It’s left me feeling frustrated, disappointed and really let down – they have absolutely failed in their duty of care.

Leader of the council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 050522-56)

‘There is no sign of Astradent having completed the sale and all of the {my}dentist patients have been left stranded in limbo for over six weeks without a dentist, and no update or explanation to the closure…It’s been abysmal.’

The news is the latest kick in the teeth for Portsmouth, which has been embroiled in a dental crisis for years, following the closure of Colosseum Dental in 2019.

The city has struggled to recover from the multiple closures, which affected some 20,000 people.

The crisis has reached such a level that the NHS has said it will finally step in, with a spokeswoman for NHS England insisting Portsmouth and Gosport will now be ‘prioritised’.

But Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council boss, has lashed out at the NHS accusing it of not doing enough to tackle the crisis.

A picture of a man with rotten teeth

The Lib Dem leader told The News the NHS had refused to fund dentists coming to the empty Colosseum sites in Paulsgrove and Portsea.

He said: ‘There are two dental practices in the city in council-owned properties that are lying empty that could have dentists in.

‘They both have contracts to provide free dental care. We asked the NHS to employ new dentists in those areas. The NHS didn’t want to do that.

‘You have got dentists who are prepared to work in Portsmouth for the NHS, places that are available and yet the NHS won’t fund this.

‘It’s absolutely mad. We have the facilities. We have dentists who want to use them. What we don’t have is the NHS prepared to fund those dentists. It’s ridiculous.’

Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, blamed the government for the city’s dental crisis.

He said: ‘Portsmouth has become a dental desert following 12 years of chronic mismanagement and underfunding of our local NHS services. Our city simply cannot afford to lose yet another dental practice.

‘Ministers claim piecemeal government funding in our region will help, but local dentists have told me it doesn’t even begin to meet the scale of the challenge.

‘Instead of chasing their own political ambitions, these developments demonstrate local Conservative MPs should be focusing on issues here in Portsmouth.’

Penny Mordaunt, Tory MP for Portsmouth North, staged a dental summit last month to meet health officials and has previously lobbied health minister Maria Caulfield to take urgent action.

Speaking to The News, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Local commissioners should immediately stand up the things the dental summit identified as increasing the volume of dental appointments.

‘I have already spoken to the minister to make her aware so they can provide support to the local commissioning team. The dental school has also offered its facilities to bridge this gap.’

A spokeswoman for {my}dentist insisted the sale of its Kingston Crescent site was progressing ‘well’.

She added: ‘We would like to reassure patients that the sale of the Kingston Crescent practice is underway, and once complete, dental provision will continue under the new ownership.

‘We wrote to patients informing them of the proposed sale on March 17, 2022. However, despite our best efforts, the purchase has still not completed but we are hopeful it will happen very soon.

‘We would like to apologise to patients who have not been able to secure routine treatment during this time.’

The NHS insisted it was working on improving free dental provision in the city, with a site in Cosham already providing additional support.

A spokeswoman added: ‘As part of a planned procurement process across the south-east region, the NHS are currently prioritising procurement in Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport, Havant and the Isle of Wight – patients can find details of practices providing urgent and routine NHS dental care on: www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist.’


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