A city has been left without any availability for new NHS dental patients after a chain announced it was shutting down three surgeries.
Colosseum Dental is closing three practices in Portsmouth, Hampshire, making a number of staff redundant and leaving 20,000 people without an NHS dentist.
The move comes as the NHS website shows no places available for new patients in Portsmouth, with the nearest spaces available a ferry ride away in Gosport or a half-hour drive away in Havant.
One patient, who did not wish to be named, said: “I received a letter saying that I would be provided ongoing care at another surgery but when I contacted them I was told all they could do was put me on a waiting list and 20,000 patients were affected by the closures.
“They said Colosseum had made a ‘business decision’ to shut the three surgeries and the staff had been made redundant.”
Colosseum Dental Group is a Europe-wide company owned by investment group Jacobs Holding, based in Switzerland.
It gained responsibility for the three Portsmouth surgeries it is now closing when it took over the Southern Dental group in 2017.
Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, said poorer members of the community would be worst-affected.
“The news that three dental practises in Portsmouth are set to close is deeply concerning,” he said.
“This now means that 20,000 people in our community will be left without access to dental care.
“The fact that the nearest available spaces according to the NHS website are in Havant and Gosport means that, yet again, the most vulnerable in society will be disproportionately affected.
“How will poorer families pay for the additional transport costs? How will single parents get the time off work to travel the extra distance? What will the additional environmental cost be for our city already plagued by air pollution? The Government needs to answer these questions.”
Mr Morgan said the situation raised questions over the use of private organisations to run public services.
He said: “This Government needs to realise that carelessly hacking off bits of our public services and selling it to the highest bidder is not the best way to run a country. I will be raising this matter with the minister responsible over the coming few days.”
Colosseum, Jacobs Holding and NHS England have been approached for comment.