New chief and deputy chief medical officers announced

Author: Caroline White

Professor Chris Whitty, who is currently chief scientific adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), is to take over from Professor Dame Sally Davies as chief medical officer (CMO).

The appointment, which has the support of the prime minister, follows an external recruitment competition, the DHSC has said.

Professor Whitty has overall responsibility for the department’s research and development, including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and life science strategy.

He is also the professor of public and international health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a practising NHS consultant physician in acute medicine and infectious diseases at University College London Hospitals, and Gresham professor of physic.

He will replace Professor Dame Sally Davies, when she takes up a new role as master of Trinity College Cambridge in October.

Professor Whitty said: “It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity as chief medical officer for England to be able to support colleagues in public health, the NHS and social care around the country to improve the health of the nation.”

Sir Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at DHSC, said that Professor Whitty “will bring to his new role a wealth of relevant experience from his previous roles in public health.”

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “I can think of no better person to lead the fight against infectious diseases, public health threats, and lead the medical profession to continue keeping us as healthy as possible.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences said that Professor Whitty was “a fantastic choice” for CMO.

“The Academy has worked closely with Chris in his previous roles, and we know from experience that he is both a champion of harnessing research to improve lives for patients and an inspiring leader.

“I have no doubt that he will continue the excellent work of those who held the position before him to continue to further public health and biomedical research in the UK and globally.”

Dr Jenny Harries, who takes up the post of deputy CMO on 15 July, joined Public Health England (PHE) in February 2013 as regional director for the South of England.

As PHE’s deputy medical director, she leads PHE’s support to the specialised commissioning agenda, having gained direct commissioning experience when with Public Health Wales.

She has worked in clinical, policy, evaluation and research roles in many countries including New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Kenya and the Caribbean.

Dr Harries trained in public health in Wales and has held several formal public health appointments.

Dr Harries said: “I feel hugely privileged to be taking up the role of deputy chief medical officer and to be able to contribute at a national level to support health improvement in our population.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “Jenny… has brought great expertise to a number of complex national emergencies from Ebola to the Wiltshire poisonings and has achieved so much in her work in the South of England.

“Jenny has also been a champion within PHE of diversity and gender balance and I know she will bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to her new role.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, offered her congratulations and said: “Her many accomplishments speak for themselves and she will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this role.”

Image courtesy of the Department of Health and Social Care