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Wednesday 21st August 2019

First woman appointed as Chief Medical Officer for England

4th March 2011

Professor Dame Sally Davies was today named as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the first woman to hold the post.

The CMO is the Government’s most senior medical advisor, responsible for providing expert advice on a wide range of issues relating to the health of the nation, including the handling of health related emergencies.

Dame Sally, who has been interim CMO since May, will take up the post with immediate effect. She currently holds the post of Director-General for Research and Development and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health.

Key responsibilities for the role will include:

  • supporting the Health Secretary on the creation of a public health service for England;
  • providing professional leadership for Directors of Public Health and leading a public health professional network for those responsible for commissioning and providing public health services;
  • supporting the Health Secretary in strengthening the Government’s collective effort to help improve the health and well-being of the people of England; and
  • playing a leading role in other activities and stakeholder relationships beyond Government to promote the need to improve people’s health.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“I am delighted to be asked to become the Chief Medical Officer for England and take this opportunity as the professional lead to strengthen public health in this country. I am honoured to be the 16th person and first woman to join the prestigious ranks of Chief Medical Officer and I look forward to working with everyone to improve the health of the nation.”

Congratulating Dame Sally on her appointment, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“I am delighted that Sally has been appointed Chief Medical Officer. In her time at the Department, and in particular over the last nine months as interim CMO, she has demonstrated her expert knowledge of her field and provided invaluable advice to Ministers on a broad range of issues from flu to nutrition to health protection. She will play a key role in developing the new public health service, shaping the way the Department improves and protects the public’s health. I look forward to working closely with her.”

The CMO role carries the rank of Permanent Secretary and is responsible to the Secretary of State for Health for all of the Department’s medical matters. The CMO is also the professional head of the Department’s medical staff and head of the Medical Civil Service.


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