Sir Liam Donaldson, MD, FRCS, FRCP, FRCA

Founder and Chair

World Alliance for Patient Safety
sir liam donaldson bio photo

Professor of Public Health of Faculty of Epidemiology & Population Health for London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Sir Liam Donaldson is recognised as an international champion of public health and patient safety. He was the creator and foundation chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety, launched in 2004. He is a past vice-chairman of the World Health Organisation Executive Board. In his current global health roles, he is the World Health Organisation’s Envoy for Patient Safety, Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board for the Global Polio Eradication Programme, as well as Chair of the Polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board.

In the United Kingdom, he is Chair of the Integrated Care System (ICS) for the North East and North Cumbria region of England (planning and providing care for three million people) and Professor of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was Chancellor of Newcastle University for 10 years until 2019.

Prior to this Sir Liam was the 15th Chief Medical Officer for England, and the United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Adviser, from 1998-2010. During his time in this historic post (established in 1855) he held critical responsibilities across the whole field of public health and health care. As the United Kingdom’s chief adviser on health issues, he worked with and advised six Secretaries of State for Health, two Prime Ministers and many other government ministers. He has produced landmark reports which have set health policy and legislation in fields such as stem cell research, clinical governance, quality and safety of health care, infectious disease control, patient empowerment, poor clinical performance, smoke free public places, medical regulation, and organ and tissue retention. He led the government’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

He has published over 270 papers in peer-reviewed journals and many technical reports for the UK government, the National Health Service and the World Health Organisation. He is author of a standard textbook of public health that has been in continuous print for nearly 40 years and co-author of the history of the Chief Medical Officers of England. He has made hundreds of media appearances as part of his professional roles and numerous keynote addresses, presentations and speeches at national and international conferences and events.

Sir Liam initially trained as a surgeon and went on to hold posts in academia, general practice, public health, healthcare management and the civil service.

Sir Liam has received many public honours: 17 honorary university doctorates, eight fellowships from medical royal colleges and faculties, and the Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He was the Queen’s Honorary Physician between 1996 and 1999. He was knighted in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List.