Thérèse Coffey: who is Liz Truss’s new Health Secretary - and previous government roles

Thérèse Coffey was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in May 2010

Liz Truss has been announced as the next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.

A new cabinet has now been formed, with Thérèse Coffey appointed as health secretary.

Thérèse Coffey was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in May 2010

But who is Thérèse Coffey and what roles has she held in government?

Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Thérèse Coffey?

Thérèse Coffey is a long-standing ally of new Prime Minister Liz Truss and will now take on the role of health secretary.

Thérèse Coffey graduated from University College London (UCL) with a PhD in chemistry.

She then worked for the international company Mars.

When Ms Coffey qualified as a chartered management accountant, she became Finance Director for a UK subsidiary of Mars, and has also worked at the BBC.

What roles has she held in government?

Ms Coffey was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in May 2010.

She was also the Assistant Government Whip from 2014 to 2015, Parliamentary Secretary of State (Deputy Leader of the House of Commons) from 2015 to 2016, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from 17 July 2016 to 25 July 2019.

Ms Coffey then became the Minister of State at Defra between 25 July 2019 and 8 September 2019 before being appointed Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on 8 September 2019 - a role she held up to being appointed as health secretary.

She also previously served on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee until she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Energy.

What is her voting record?

The gov.uk website said: “Thérèse has campaigned on stopping the A14 toll, improving NHS experience for patients and better broadband.”

According to TheyWorkForYou, Ms Coffey has consistently voted for reforming the NHS so GPs buy services on behalf of their patients, as well as voting against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life.

She has also consistently voted against smoking bans and almost always voted against restricting the provision of services to private patients by the NHS.

As a backbencher in 2010, Ms Coffey introduced a motion in Parliament calling for “mental health assessments” for women seeking an abortion.

She also recently voted with 174 other Tory MPs to oppose extending the right to access abortion pills at home.

Speaking in June, following the repeal of Roe vs Wade - a legal precedent which protected women’s right to abortion in the US - Ms Coffey said: “I would prefer that people didn’t have abortions but I am not going to condemn people that do”.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has said the new Health Secretary’s record on abortion rights is “deeply concerning”, suggesting Ms Coffey has put her personal beliefs “above expert clinical guidance”.

Clare Murphy, chief executive BPAS, told the BBC that although politicians are entitled to their own views, what mattered was whether their “personal convictions stand in the way of women’s ability to act on their own”.

She added that by voting to revoke access to at-home abortion care, Ms Coffey was acting “against the advice of leading medical bodies including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the BMA”.

“To have a health secretary who would place their personal beliefs above expert clinical guidance is deeply concerning,” she added.

The Health Secretary also voted against same-sex marriage in 2013 and was one of just 72 MPs opposed to extending the right to Northern Ireland three years ago.

In 2020, she told Kay Burley: “I took the view at the time, and I still hold to that, I have a strong faith background about what is a legal partnership and what is marriage, but that is not a question for today.”