Who was the first British woman Chief Medical Officer?


The Chief Medical Officer is the most senior government adviser on anything to do with health.

The CMO acts as the UK government’s principal medical adviser and is the professional head of all directors of public health in local government.

The post was created in the mid-nineteenth century to try and prevent cholera epidemics. In 1894 a CMO for Scotland post was created and in 1969 and 1973, CMOs for Wales and Northern Ireland were established.

From 1855 the post was always held by a male doctor until 2010 when Sally Davies was appointed.

Initially a consultant haematologist and specialist in sickle cell disease, Sally Davies joined the Civil Service in 2004 as the government’s director of research at the Department of Health. Her promotion to CMO (England) has the equivalent rank to a government Permanent Secretary, the highest in the Civil Service.

(Strictly speaking, the first British woman Chief Medical Officer was Deirdre Hine who became CMO for Wales in 1990 but as explained that post was only created in 1969 so I’ve designated the honour of first British woman CMO to Sally Davies.)

Image credit: Image by marijana1 from Pixabay