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Thursday 27th October 2016

Praise for Sir Liam

4th January 2010

An editorial in The Guardian looks back at the powerful position held by Sir Liam Donaldson as head of the health service in England.


The role of Chief Medical Officer - 'the nation's doctor' - has on many occasions been a strong force in ensuring the public received decent care.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Sir John Simon ensured that independent yearly reports were released concerning public healthcare (which began with mandatory vaccinations for smallpox and carried on to sanitation and accommodation).

Sir Wilson Jameson had the role of sustaining medical treatment during WWII and worked with his successor Sir George Godber to set up the NHS.

The role of Chief Medical Officer has been held by some extraordinary people and many would count Sir Liam Donaldson, who has announced he will retire in May this year, as one of them.

He started the role in 1998 and has played a significant part in setting up campaigns that have had an important effect in improving the health of people in Britain.

The smoking ban received his whole-hearted support and England's preparedness for the swine flu virus have been 'internationally admired'.

Although he failed in his attempt to introduce a cohesive application system for junior doctors, he weighed into the debate about tackling alcohol abuse by suggesting a minimum unit price.

He has also proposed a system of 'presumed consent' for organ donation that could help to tackle the current shortage of donors.

The person who steps into Sir Liam's shoes will have to equal his 'independence and imagination'.


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