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Therese Coffey appointed Health and Social Care Secretary

PARLIAMENT

Ms Coffey has been an MP since 2010, and has been in cabinet since 2019

Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, has been named as the new Health Secretary, replacing Steve Barclay, as well as Deputy Prime Minister.

Ms Coffey was previously Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions between 8 September 2019 and 6 September 2022, before being appointed to the health brief by new Prime Minister Liz Truss. She was

Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between 25 July 2019 and 8 September 2019, and before this was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 17 July 2016 to 25 July 2019. She was elected the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal in 2010.

‘I am honoured to be asked to serve as SoS for Health and

Social Care. Patients are my top priority, as we focus on ABCD - ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.’ said Ms Coffey.

She comes to the role at a time of uncertainty for the NHS, weeks before the RCN will take a decision on whether to strike.

‘Ms Coffey must buck the trend of her predecessors and listen to nursing staff. Our ask for professional and personal support cannot afford to fall on deaf ears - doing the right thing by nurses is the right thing by patients too,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.

‘The workforce crisis cannot be the elephant in the room any longer. Politicians skirt around the issue but, without enough staff, new promises will not be deliverable. A simple way to recruit and retain nursing staff – and to keep patients safe – is to pay them fairly for the invaluable work they do. Next week we will post strike ballot papers to 300,000 nursing staff across the UK. After many years of underinvestment, they are standing up for patients and themselves.’

‘We congratulate Rt Hon Therese Coffey on her appointment as the new Secretary of State for health and social care. Having gone through four health secretaries over the last five years, health leaders will hope this will signal a period of stability in this office and a razor sharp focus on the challenges facing the NHS,’ said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

‘Our new Prime Minister has set out the NHS as one of her top three priorities and so, alongside the coupling of the health secretary post with the deputy prime minister position, all eyes will be on whether we have a Government that finally delivers for the NHS.’

SMOKING CESSATION

Decrease in smoking and drug use among school children, but increase in vaping concerns experts

There has been a decrease in numbers of school children taking drugs and smoking cigarettes but a rise in vaping, with nearly 10% of 11 to 15 year olds currently using e-cigarettes, new figures from NHS Digital show.

The number of young people vaping has increased, with 9% of secondary school pupils currently (either regularly or occasionally) using e-cigarettes in 2021, an increase from 6% in 2018, the report shows. The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England, 2021 report also found that cigarette smoking has decreased, 3% of pupils were current smokers, a decline from 5% in 2018. In addition, 12% reported having ever smoked, a decrease from 16% in 2018, and the lowest level ever recorded.

‘E-cigarettes remain a relatively new product and their long-term effects are still unknown,’ said Dr Mike

McKean, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

‘It is clear that children and young people are being targeted by e-cigarette companies with bright packaging, exotic flavours and enticing names.’

The number of young people taking drugs has also decreased, 18% of pupils reported having ever taken drugs, a decline from 24% in 2018. 12% of pupils said they had taken drugs in the last year, down from 17% in 2018. Pupils who frequently met up with people outside their school or home, were more likely to have recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs.

Of pupils who met with people every day, 9% were current smokers, 12% usually drank alcohol once a week, and 19% had taken drugs in the last month.

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4 | Independent Nurse |  September 2022

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