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Portsmouth MP urges Minister to intervene and fix ‘dental desert’ city has become

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to intervene and fix the ‘dental desert’ the city has become.

In a letter to Health Minister Maria Caulfield, the Portsmouth MP raised concerns shared with him by local dentistry practitioners that the £6.8million of funding for the South East announced in January was ‘wholly insufficient’.

He also highlighted Dentists’ concerns that the funding was more of a ‘burden’, rather than support, as take up of funding would require NHS practitioners to work outside of already extended hours, including over weekends, to meet unrealistic targets caused by the ‘broken’ Unit of Dental Activity (UDA) system.

Another issue shared during a local dentistry forum Mr Morgan held with NHS dentistry representatives and practitioners was the need for far greater attention around rules and regulation for recruitment and retention, with many practices struggling to recruit that staff they need.

It comes following a recent report by the Association of Dental Groups which showed Portsmouth CCG has the 7th lowest amount of NHS dentists per 100,000 in the country, at 42. It also found Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG, which also serves many of the City MP’s constituents, at 15th lowest, with 45 NHS Dentists per 100,000.

Adding to concerns around local access to NHS Primary Care, research by the Nuffield Trust published in The Times this month showed Portsmouth has been the most acutely affected area by the wider fall of 1,622 full-time NHS GPs since 2015, with just 40 GPs per 100,000 people.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“It’s clear to me from speaking to local dentistry representatives and practitioners that government funding allocated in January is wholly insufficient, rapidly turning Portsmouth into a dental desert.

“From a broken commissioning system, to chronic issues around recruitment and retention, it is clear local dentistry is creaking at the seams. Piecemeal pots of money simply won’t cut it and doesn’t even begin to deal with the wider issues Portsmouth dentistry is facing.

“Tory Ministers need to stop sitting on their hands, engage with the challenges and urgently intervene to deliver the NHS dentistry services Portsmouth deserves. I will continue to speak up in Westminster to ensure that happens.”