Victoria Atkins: who is new UK Health Secretary, where is she an MP - and who is her husband Paul Kenward?
Before entering politics, Atkins had a background in law and worked as a barrister
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New Health Secretary Victoria Atkins will be confronted with several challenges, including ongoing strikes and record-high waiting lists, as she transitions into the role previously held by Steve Barclay.
Previously serving as the financial secretary to the Treasury, Atkins assumed her new role as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle, with her predecessor moving on to the role of Environment Secretary.
Her appointment as Health Secretary comes days after new figures showed 7.77 million people were waiting for NHS treatment in England, the highest number since records began in 2007. But NHS Providers, which represents health trusts, said resolving strikes must be top of Atkins’s agenda.
Here is everything you need to know about her.
Who is Victoria Atkins?
47-year-old Victoria Atkins began her political career by running for office as a Conservative Party candidate, and was elected as the MP for Louth and Horncastle in the 2015 general election, marking the beginning of her formal political career.
Before entering politics, Atkins had a background in law and worked as a barrister specialising in criminal law, a professional background which may have contributed to her interest in issues related to crime and justice during her political career.
Atkins, the daughter of the longstanding Conservative MP Robert Atkins, assumed the role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding at the Home Office in November 2017, under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May.
She continued in this position when the first Johnson ministry was established in July 2019, and was appointed Minister of State for Prisons and Probation as well as Minister for Afghan Resettlement during a cabinet reshuffle in 2021.
She played a key role in overseeing Operation Pitting - the British military operation to evacuate British nationals and eligible Afghans from Afghanistan following the 2021 Taliban offensive - but resigned from her position in 2022 amid a government crisis born of the Chris Pincher scandal.
The new Health Secretary is married to Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, which also grows medicinal cannabis. They have one son together, Monty.
She also served as financial secretary to the Treasury for a little over a year prior to her appointment in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).