New Health Secretary will not seek to ‘undo’ abortion laws
New Health Secretary Therese Coffey has said she will not seek to “undo any aspects of abortion laws” despite her views on the subject.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is a Catholic, voted against same-sex marriage in 2013 and extending abortion rights in Northern Ireland.
She also voted against making at-home abortion pills, introduced during the pandemic, permanently available in England and Wales.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which offers NHS-funded abortions, has said her record on abortion rights is “deeply concerning”.
Asked on BBC Breakfast about her views, Ms Coffey said access to abortions will continue, adding that her responsibility is for what happens in England.
Regarding the vote on at-home pills, she said: “Well, I’m a democrat and the vote was won in Parliament by people who wanted to make that permanent.
“There are many other people who are exceptionally pro-abortion who did not want that to happen.
“However, Parliament voted and that happened and the regulations are already in place.”
The new Health Secretary was also asked about social media posts circulating on Tuesday night about pictures of her smoking. There were also comments about her being overweight.
“I didn’t look at social media last night, I don’t tend to look at social media,” she said, adding that such comments do not worry her.
Asked about her stance on abortion on Sky News, she said: “I’m conscious I have voted against abortion laws.
“What I will say is I’m the complete democrat and that is done, so it’s not that I’m seeking to undo any aspects of abortion laws.”
Ms Coffey, who has a PhD in chemistry, also told the broadcaster that health and social care will be funded through general taxation.
She was asked about the challenge of paying for health and social care without the guarantee of extra funds from the soon-to-be-axed National Insurance increase.
Ms Coffey told Sky News: “The intention is that will be funded from general taxation and that is the case, so we will continue to invest the same amount into health and social care that we would setting out through the levy”.
She reiterated her top four priorities: “A, B, C, D – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists”.
The Cabinet minister also pledged to do more on delayed discharges of people from hospital, which prevents other people from accessing beds.
“There are actually thousands of people currently in hospital today who don’t need clinically to be in hospital, that need that care for once they leave hospital,” she told the BBC.
“That’s why it’s this combination of focusing on social care and health (that) is going to be critical.”
Growing the economy is the “main element” of this new Government, she said, adding that doing so “will bring in more tax revenues in order to fund public services, but also with our taxpayers as well.”
Ms Coffey was later criticised on Twitter over comments she made on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme referring to chiropractors, who work on muscles and joint pain, but who mostly work privately.
Referring to the NHS, she said the “majority of healthcare is delivered through primary care, through our doctors, our dentists, chiropractors”.
The NHS website says access to chiropractors is not widely available on the NHS.
“If you need hands-on treatment, a GP is more likely to refer you to a physiotherapist,” it says.
She also pledged to help patients get NHS appointments, saying: “I’m very conscious that we want to be promoting what we can do better for patients, so they can get their appointments, whether for a doctor or a dentist to tackle the backlogs, the ambulances and of course social care.”
Meanwhile, Ms Coffey’s interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari was interrupted by her phone alarm.
She scrambled to switch off her alarm, which was set to the opening bars of the 1999 song by US rapper Dr Dre – Still D.R.E.
“I’ve just realised my alarm is going off on my phone, I apologise,” she said.
“You’re getting a bit of Dr Dre.”Published: by Radio NewsHub