Thérèse Coffey has been appointed as health and social care secretary for England in new prime minister Liz Truss’s first cabinet.
Coffey, who has been Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal since 2010, replaces Steve Barclay, who held the health portfolio for just two months, and will also work as deputy prime minister.
She has a PhD in chemistry and is a qualified chartered accountant.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on 7 September 2022, the day after her appointment, Coffey said: “We want to be promoting what we can do better for patients to make sure they can get appointments, whether they be with doctors or dentists, to tackle the backlogs, the ambulances and, of course, social care. That’s my ‘ABCD’ in terms of what I will be doing in the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
“The majority of care is delivered through primary care, through our doctors, our dentists, through chiropractors, all that other support that is there, not just in hospitals,” she added, although she did not mention pharmacists.
Commenting on the appointment, Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board, said: “The new secretary of state is faced with an urgent challenge to improve patient access to care, whilst ensuring hard-working frontline health professionals get the support they need. Pressures are already building ahead of what will be another challenging winter for the NHS.
“As inflation bites and cost of living pressures dominate the agenda, an increased focus on the NHS budget will need fresh thinking on how we support prevention, deliver best value from our medicines, and better manage long-term conditions in the community. I hope the new government re-energises the progress made towards a potential ‘Pharmacy First’ approach in community pharmacy to support patient access to care.
“This must be supported by a long-term workforce plan backed up with multi-year investment in education and training, which has been delayed year after year but will be vital for training the staff we need to deliver patient care for the future. This must include support for the next generation of pharmacist independent prescribers, who will make a huge difference for patients.”
When asked about the position of pharmacy minister James Morris — who supported former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership election — a spokesperson for the DHSC said that “any ministerial appointments will be confirmed in due course.”