- Published: Tuesday, 14 November 2023 16:21
- Written by Guy Tuggle
- Hits: 1415
The Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP has been announced as the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care.
Leadsom replaces Neil O’Brien MP who resigned from the post on Monday in order to ’spend more time in his constituency’.
In her new role - the most junior of ministerial ranks - Leadsom will have responsibility for all aspects of primary care. Her roving brief includes GPs, dentistry, optical and pharmacy services, prescription charges and ’primary care backlogs’.
Andrea Leadsom’s appointment also means Eddie Crouch has a new ’go-to’. As the BDA Chair fondly reminds us, it will be his - and the profession’s - sixth in three years.
As well as a new Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Victoria Atkins MP, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary, a new Health Minister has also been announced following the departure of Will Quince MP from the position.
The Rt Hon Andrew Stephenson MP (CON Pendle, Lancashire) has been confirmed as Minister of State at the Department of Health & Social Care.
Whilst Dame Andrea Leadsom will field most parliamentary questions relating to dentistry, Stephenson and Atkins will also need to grasp the profession’s problems if their replies are to progress beyond chanting "an extra £50 million for dentistry" from a government that is "investing £3BN in dentistry".
For the BDA and others including the Health & Social Care Committee who have lobbied hard to instigate change and improvement to the dental contract, the inevitable necessity for a new team to ’bed-in’ will effectively mean starting from scratch all over again.
It is unlikely that Dame Leadsom will oversee much if any improvement in the crisis affecting NHS dentistry. Rishi Sunak is obliged to call a general election before January 2025 and there will be scant parliamentary time in his final term to navigate any quick-wins for dentistry.
For Andrea Leadsom, the junior ranking attached to her latest appointment borders on humiliation. She was, after all, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy from 2019-2020, has been ’Leader of the House’ and has twice thrown her hat into the ring to become party leader.
Famously, she caused offence when she suggested that she was best qualified to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister because unlike Theresa May, she had had children and therefore had a "real stake" in the country’s future. May was unable, for health reasons, to bear children.
Andrew Stephenson may enjoy a more cordial relationship with the nation’s health workers. According to his Wikipedia profile, he "has spoken openly about how his own health problems, including a gangrenous appendix in 2014 and having his gallbladder removed in 2016, led him to become a volunteer community first responder with North West Ambulance Service providing life-saving care before an ambulance arrives.
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