Therese Coffey says she could've died from brain abcess caused by stress of government job

Therese Coffey said the stress of being a government minister left her with a brain abscess. Credit: PA

Therese Coffey has revealed the stress of being a government minister left her with a brain abscess that could've killed her.

The Suffolk Coastal MP, who is 52, spent a month in hospital after she started hallucinating and slurring her words.

She told The Sunday Times she first became ill in 2018, when she was under-secretary for environment.

She said Michael Gove had come in as Environment Secretary and had "upped the pace and was really pushing on a variety of issues". She said she was working long hours to try to get things done.

She noticed signs of brain fog but only realised "something was badly wrong" on the day of the local elections of May 2018.

She said: "I can always tell when I'm not well because I don't eat, but also when I dragged myself out to vote, I couldn't actually remember exactly where I lived."

She received a scan in hospital, and doctors found an abscess on her brain, which is a pus-filled swelling.

Ms Coffey said she spent a month in hospital and could not drive for the next year due to losing "aspects" of her memory.

She said: "I couldn't remember the words for certain things. I can remember thinking… I can't remember what these thing are. It was slippers, and it still happens now."

Ms Coffey said even in the moments after surgery, her first thought was about having to resign as a minister.

"I guess that just goes to show the kind of pressure I was feeling," she said.

But she says she now tries to "live in the moment".

"I do value life more now than ever. I came close to dying, and I think looking back that if my sister hadn't phoned St Thomas' [Hospital] and they hadn't done that scan, I probably would have been dead in a matter of days," she said.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know