Have you heard of TTIP?
That’s the acronym for a very dangerous agreement – which is currently being worked out between Europe and the US. You mae also have heard of it as the EU/US Trade Agreement.
It is a huge threat to our public services in general – and to the NHS in particular. We’ve posted on it before, and will do again.
One of the first people to raise the alarm was Debbie Abrahams. As long ago as 19 June 2013 she raised the matter in the Commons – and got a typically evasive answer from David Cameron.
But Debbie was not the sort of person to be put off by that. She and Andy Burnham have continued to work hard to highlight the dangers.
So as part of our occasional series on Labour’s Team 2015, and as part of our campaign for Clive Efford’s Bill, we thought you ought to know more about Debbie.
Debbie Abrahams is the Member of Parliament for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency. She won it in a by-election victory in January 2011.
She is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and a member of the Shadow Health Team.
Her other Parliamentary responsibilities include membership of the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee; the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt, Aid and Trade, and the one on Socioeconomic Inequalities – as well as being Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Health Committee. We recently reported on the Inquiry she commissioned and led in that role – one which concluded that ‘competition, privatisation or marketization worsens health equity’
Although Debbie has lived in the North West most of her adult life, she was born in Sheffield. All her professional background has been in health-related activities. She studied Biochemistry and Physiology at the University of Salford then went on to gain a Masters in health education and public health at the University of Liverpool.
With her Masters under her belt, she became Head of Healthy Cities for Knowsley. Debbie’s key achievements were to establish community health forums across Knowsley, getting local people involved in health planning (e.g. The Knowsley Health Plan) and setting up ‘one stop shops’ for health in Kirkby and Huyton.
As a result of Debbie’s work in Knowsley, Frank Dobson appointed her to the Board of Bury and Rochdale Health Authority in 1998. There she had responsibility for health inequalities, partnerships and public involvement.
In 2002 she was appointed Chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust. Health inequalities and child protection are areas that Debbie feels particularly strongly about and she ensured that there was direct reporting to the Board on these issues. While Debbie was Chair, Rochdale PCT became one of the highest performing PCTs in England.
In 2006 Debbie resigned from the Rochdale Primary Care Trust expressing her anger at the use of private health companies in the NHS. After her resignation, she joined the Labour Party – as she explained “I joined the Labour Party shortly after I resigned in 2006. As founders of the NHS, I believe that the Labour Party and the core values of the NHS are inextricably linked: equity, fairness and social justice.”
She returned to full-time Public Health research at the University of Liverpool. Here she became recognised as a world expert in Health Impact Assessment (HIA. And she has advised health ministries across the globe as well as organisations such as the World Health Organisation. She also co-led an international project on health inequalities. After the 2010 general election Debbie set up a community interest company which focused on improving health and reducing health inequalities.
Alongside all that she still finds time to be a keen runner and, so she says, plays a fierce game of hockey!
Debbie’s career tells you all you need to know about her commitment to the NHS and to Health equality. She’s a great person to have as part of Labour’s health team.
And she’s a strong supporter of Alex Sobel. She was the first Labour MP to come to Leeds North West to campaign for Alex after his selection last year.
We hope to see here again – before the Labour victory next May.
And don’t forget our day of action on the NHS this coming Saturday.
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