The news that Rosie Winterton will be replaced as minister for dentistry was met with mixed reactions in political circles.
Andrew Murrison, Conservative party spokesman on dentistry, said: ‘I think she’s one of the more pleasant of the current line-up and I’m sorry on a personal level that she will be going elsewhere.
‘However, it’s certainly the case that NHS dentistry has lurched from crisis to crisis during the time Rosie Winterton has been in charge. The contract has been a disaster that has reduced access and alienated the profession. It will be for her successor to try to pick up the pieces.’
Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat party spokeswoman on dentistry, said: ‘Rosie Winterton will be remembered for putting the last-but-one nail in the coffin of NHS dentistry.
‘She seems to have done little to have listened to the profession and spectacularly failed to deliver on the government promise for access to dentistry for everybody.’
The British Orthodontic Society said: ‘Under Rosie Winterton’s leadership, the shortage of university lecturers in orthodontics has grown worse and there are waiting lists for orthodontic treatment at hospitals and practices in many areas.
‘On the plus side, the dental contract maintained NHS orthodontic provision for those patients who most need treatment, although the loss of structural co-ordination of the service at national level is regrettable.
‘Hillingdon Hospital’s orthodontic department was under threat of closure but subsequently saved. For this recognition of the importance of hospital orthodontics to patients the British Orthodontic Society is very grateful and wishes Rosie Winterton well in the future.’
The British Dental Association said: ‘Rosie Winterton’s period as health minister responsible for dentistry has coincided with the most fundamental reform of NHS dentistry in England and Wales since the inception of the NHS. Those reforms have created significant uncertainty for dentists.
‘The British Dental Association has made clear its serious concerns about the effects of those reforms and will continue to do so with her successor.’
By Andy Tate, parliamentary correspondent