Sir Liam Donaldson, FRCS, FRCP, FRCA, MD

Patient Safety Envoy, World Health Organization

Professor Sir Liam Donaldson is recognised as an international champion of public health and patient safety. He was the foundation chair of the World Health Organisation’s World Alliance for Patient Safety, launched in 2004. He is a past vice-chairman of the World Health Organisation Executive Board. He is now the World Health Organisation’s Envoy for Patient Safety, Chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board for the Global Polio Eradication Programme, as well as Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Board of this Programme. In the UK, he is he is Chair of the Integrated Care System (ICS) for the North East and North Cumbria, Professor of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Honorary Distinguished Professor at Cardiff University, Associate Fellow in the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House and 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 advised the Secretary of State for Health, the Prime Minister and 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 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.

Sir Liam initially trained as a surgeon in Birmingham and went on to hold posts in academia, public health practice and senior management.

Sir Liam has received many public honours: 17 honorary 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.