Debbie Abrahams is the Member of Parliament for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency following a by-election victory in January 2011 with a majority of 3,558 and 42.1% of the vote.
She is also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and a member of the Shadow Health Team.
Her other Parliamentary responsibilities include being Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Health Committee.
She is a member of the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee; the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt, Aid & Trade APPG on Kashmir and the APPG on Socioeconomic Inequalities.
Debbie believes in putting ‘Constituents first’ in all the work that she does as a Member of Parliament. In the first few months of being in an MP, and after being approached by a constituent, she led a national campaign to raise awareness about the damage late payments by large companies is having on small and medium sized businesses called ‘Be Fair – Pay on Time’.
She is also a developing a ‘Constituents First’ Constituency Strategy in consultation with local people which will define priorities for her work in Oldham East and Saddleworth and Westminster.
In the national media Debbie has highlighted her concerns about the coalition government’s decision to shift funding from poor health areas such as Oldham to good health areas such as Surrey; a move that is against the advice of the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation. You can read her article in The Guardian here: Deprived parts of England will lose out under health reforms – report.
Born in Sheffield Debbie has lived in the North West most of her adult life and in Newhey for nearly 25 years. She has been married to John for 25 years and they have two daughters, Victoria and Dawn, who both recently finished university.
Debbie’s professional background is in health. After reading Biochemistry & Physiology at the University of Salford she 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 were 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.
After resigning from the NHS in 2006 over concerns of the direction of health policy at the time, Debbie returned to full-time Public Health research at the University of Liverpool (she started work at the University in 2000 and did this in conjunction with her Health Authority and PCT roles). Here she became recognised as a world expert in Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and 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.
Debbie’s voluntary work has included being a former school governor and the former chair of the charity North West Action on Smoking & Health. She was also an advisor to the National Institute of Health & Clinical Evidence.
Debbie is a keen runner and plays a fierce game of hockey!