Oldham East and Saddleworth
Debbie Abrahams was born in Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire; her father was a dentist. She was privately educated, going on to study biochemistry and physiology at the University of Salford; her early employment was as a community worker for a charity in Wythenshawe in south Manchester, where she set up job training programmes for teenagers. She later studied for a master’s degree at the University of Liverpool. Abrahams was head of healthy cities for Knowsley and served on the board of Bury and Rochdale Health Authority.
In 2002, Abrahams was appointed chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust. She was Director of the International Health Impact Assessment Consortium at the University of Liverpool between 2006 and 2010.
In December 2010, Abrahams was placed on a shortlist of three to be the Labour Party candidate for the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. She was selected as Labour’s candidate and retained the seat for the Labour Party with a majority of 3,558 with 42.1% of the vote.
Abrahams was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Andy Burnham and elected Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Health Committee. In 2014, she organised an Inquiry Into The Effectiveness Of International Health Systems which she said demonstrated that “where there is competition, privatisation or marketisation in a health system, health equity worsens”. She sought to reassure Clinical commissioning groups that the Labour Party’s proposed health reforms would not amount to a top-down ‘big bang’ shake up of the NHS.
She was elected as a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in July 2015. In September 2015, Abrahams was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in recognition on her work with disabled people in the past. Abrahams was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in June 2016, following Owen Smith’s resignation from the Shadow Cabinet in the wake of the EU Referendum result.
In the general election of 8 June 2017 she retained the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat with an increased majority of 8,182. Her majority narrowed to 1,503 in the 2019 United Kingdom general election.
In 2021, Abrahams was one of three MPs who successfully took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care over contracts awarded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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