Chief medical officer to step down in September

Author: Caroline White

Professor Dame Sally Davies is to step down from her post as chief medical officer (CMO) for England and chief medical advisor to the UK government, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

Professor Davies has been appointed as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, starting in October, and will leave her current post in September.

Recruitment for her replacement will get under way shortly.

Appointed in 2010, Dame Sally was the first female CMO. She worked in the NHS as a consultant haematologist for 30 years and was the first UK medical practitioner to specialise in sickle cell disease, before joining the Civil Service in 2004.

She became director general of Research and Development for the NHS, created the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and later had a central role in the establishment of Genomics England.

She is best known for successfully driving international and domestic efforts in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and for leading the UK government’s response to health emergencies including Ebola in West Africa from 2013-15 and in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018, Zika, pandemic flu in 2010, and the Novichok attacks in 2019.

Her campaigning work on antimicrobial resistance resulted in a United Nations Resolution in 2016. She subsequently became a co-convenor of the United Nations Interagency Group on AMR and helped establish the £265m Fleming Fund to develop laboratories and surveillance for AMR across the world.

Professor Davies said she had enjoyed the role from the start and was delighted to be appointed as the first woman to take up the role of Master of Trinity College. “I can assure everyone that I will continue contributing to the global fight against AMR from my new role,” she added.

Among the many tributes paid to her work, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Sally Davies has been a dedicated public servant and a driving force for improving the health of the nation. She has led the fight against antibiotic resistance and public health risks, and has pioneered world-leading action across a whole range of areas. She’s been not just England’s CMO but led thinking around the world. Sally has been an inspiration to us all.”

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said that Professor Davies had “played a fantastic role in taking research right to the heart of government to tackle health issues in the UK and globally. Her wisdom and leadership have been a great benefit in shaping the UK government's response to health emergencies, and ensuring society is best prepared for new advances in health research and technology.”

He added: “I am pleased to hear she will continue contributing to the mission to fight against antimicrobial resistance, a challenge she has embraced with passion and commitment. She has been a great role model as the first female chief medical officer supporting and inspiring the next generation of talented researchers."

Image courtesy of the Department of Health and Social Care