When it comes to treating teeth, it’s not the dentist’s job to care
The future of dentistry is set to be put into doubt as the Government’s new chief dental officer faces pressure to step down over the appointment of a former head of NHS England to be its chief executive.
Dr James Willliams, who was appointed last year, will be the latest in a string of appointments to be overturned by Cabinet ministers.
In a letter to the Cabinet, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The future of the NHS is in your hands, so it is important that you consider the future of your own department.”
The appointment of Dr Willliamson came after the Department of Health launched an investigation into his appointment as the NHS England chief dental surgeon in May, after it emerged he had been paid more than £2m for a year’s work.
It is believed the Government is concerned about Dr Williams role as the country’s largest dentist.
But the Cabinet’s letter to Mr Hunt said that “the Department has been unable to determine whether the appointment was acceptable to you or to the Government, and it has therefore concluded that the appointment is not in the best interests of the department”.
The letter said: The Department is committed to ensuring that it does not need to make a decision on an appointment without having considered all the circumstances.
“The Cabinet letter also said it was “very concerned” about Dr Watson, who is in charge of the Government-funded dentistry unit at the Royal College of General Dentistry (RCGD), which has been criticised for a series of failures, including a shortage of dentists.
The RCGD, which also provides health services to children and young people, is set up by the Government to provide the NHS with dental services.
The letter added that Dr Watson had been “inadvertently appointed as the Department’s chief dental advisor to the RCGD by the Secretary of State for Health”.
Dr Watson, a former chief executive of the RCGA, is one of a number of appointments which have come under scrutiny by the Cabinet.
The former chief dental doctor is also being investigated by the Department over an appointment in December 2015, which saw him “unilaterally” appoint another doctor to the role of head of dental services at St James’ Hospital in Liverpool.
Dr Watson had already been criticised by MPs after he appointed another doctor for the role in March, despite the NHS having asked the Government for more than 1,500 applications.
The decision to appoint Dr Watson is the latest appointment to come under fire by Cabinet over a lack of choice of a new chief medical officer.
The latest move comes as the UK’s new Chief Medical Officer Dr Fiona Bruce is under pressure to resign over her decision to replace Dr Willams.
Ms Bruce said last week that she had been told the appointment had been made “without any consultation” by Mr Hunt.
In the letter to Cabinet, the Health Secretary wrote: “It is in the interests of your department that you should consider the appointment made without any consultation with your Chief Medical Advisor.
I can assure you that your chief medical advisor is well placed to make the right decision.
“Dr Watson’s appointment has not been made without consultation with you, as the decision to make this appointment was made by the secretary of state for health.”‘
It’s not in my hands’The letter also asked Mr Hunt “to consider whether the decision was in the public interest” and said the decision had been brought about “without proper consideration”.
“In this challenging period, I will work closely with the new Chief Executive of the Department to ensure that we are all fully aware of all that is going on.””
A Department of Healthcare and Social Care spokesman said: It is important to recognise that all decisions about appointments have been made in consultation with the Minister and the Department. “
In this challenging period, I will work closely with the new Chief Executive of the Department to ensure that we are all fully aware of all that is going on.”
A Department of Healthcare and Social Care spokesman said: It is important to recognise that all decisions about appointments have been made in consultation with the Minister and the Department.
The appointment of an individual to the post of chief dental adviser is a matter for the department.
“The Department’s approach to appointments has always been consistent with that of the Health Service Executive, which is a system which supports the NHS and ensures its services are delivered safely and effectively.”