George Godber

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Sir George Godber GCB

Sir George Edward Godber, GCB (4 August, 1908 – 7 February, 2009) served as Chief Medical Officer for Her Majesty's Government in England from 1960–1973 and was instrumental in the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS).[1]

The third of seven children of a Bedfordshire farmer, Godber was educated at Bedford Modern School between 1917 and 1920,[2] at Bedford School between 1920 and 1927,[3] and at New College, Oxford, where he read medicine and gained a rowing blue. He did his clinical training at The London Hospital. As he had lost an eye in an accident the medical specialities open to him were limited. In 1939 he joined the Ministry of Health and worked in Birmingham administering the wartime Emergency Medical Services before the NHS was formed in 1948. He also served as Deputy Chief Medical Officer from 1950 to 1960.

He was instrumental is persuading the Royal College of Physicians to form a committee on smoking and lung cancer in 1958. Their report Smoking and Health, published in 1962 was important in bringing the link to the attention of the public.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Bath in 1979. He was appointed CB in 1958, KCB in 1962 and GCB in 1971. Godber celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2008. He died on 7 February 2009.


  1. ^ Klein, Rudolf (3 October 1990). "The state and the profession: the politics of the double bed". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Joyce Godber, The Harpur Trust 1552-1973, 1973, p.169
  3. ^ Obituary, The Ousel, 2009, pp.167-168