Sally Davies (doctor)

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Dame Sally Davies
DBE FRS FMedSci
Dame Sally Davies FMedSci DBE FRS.jpg
Sally Davies at the Royal Society admissions day in 2014
Chief Medical Officer for England
Assumed office
1 June 2010
Preceded bySir Liam Donaldson
Personal details
BornSally Claire Davies
(1949-11-24) 24 November 1949 (age 68)[1]
Birmingham, England
NationalityEnglish
Spouse(s)
  • R. F. W. Skilbeck
    (m. 1972; dissolved 1982)
  • P. R. A. Vulliamy
    (m. 1982; died 1982)
  • [1]
EducationEdgbaston High School
Alma mater
OccupationChief Medical Officer for England
ProfessionHaematologist
AwardsCameron Prize of the University of Edinburgh (2017)
Websitegov.uk/government/people/sally-davies

Professor Dame Sally Claire Davies, DBE FRS FMedSci (born 24 November 1949)[1] is the Chief Medical Officer for England. Previously she was the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health,[2][3] and worked as a clinician specialising in the treatment of diseases of the blood and bone marrow.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

Davies was born into an academic family in Birmingham in 1949. She failed her eleven-plus exam but was nevertheless able to study at the private Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham,[1] where she excelled on the viola.[4][5][6]

Davies studied medicine at Manchester Medical School at the University of Manchester. She qualified as a doctor, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) degree in 1972 and later[when?] gaining a Master of Science degree from the University of London.[1]

Career and research[edit]

She described her early years in clinical practice as "brutalising" and had a four-year break from medicine as a "diplomat's wife" in Madrid, before returning to medical training at the end of the 1970s.[7]

She became a consultant haematologist in 1985 at the Central Middlesex Hospital in Brent – a relatively deprived part of northwest London – and became Professor of Haemoglobinopathies there in 1997, by which time the hospital had been incorporated into Imperial College London. Central Middlesex Hospital was demolished and rebuilt using PFI money in 2006.

Davies is an expert in sickle cell disease: a blood disorder that mainly affects people of African heritage and causes painful 'crises' triggered by physical stress.[8]

Civil Service[edit]

Davies joined the Civil Service in 2004 to take up a research position in London and was soon promoted to Director-General of Research and Development at the Department of Health.[9][10][11] In 2006, she expanded the National Health Service (NHS) research base through the creation of the National Institute for Health Research and went on to become the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Health Secretary.[7]

Chief Medical Officer[edit]

In June 2010, Davies became interim Chief Medical Officer for England and was confirmed as the permanent holder of that position the following year – the first woman to hold the post.[4] The Chief Medical Officer has a 'rank' equivalent to Permanent Secretary – the highest in the Civil Service.[12]

The 'Chief' in the job title strictly refers to the incumbent's position as the most senior doctor within the Civil Service – the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Work and Pensions, for example, both employ doctors as civil servants, as of course does the Department of Health. Despite the name, the post of Chief Medical Officer has traditionally had no particular status within the medical profession as a whole – it has some parallels with the much grander position of Surgeon General in the USA.

However, with the huge expansion in the Department of Health's purview over the past two decades, the postholder has acquired substantial de facto influence over National Health Service policy.

Unusually for a British Chief Medical Officer, Davies does not have a background as a specialist in public health. Nevertheless, Davies has written and spoken extensively about the rise of antimicrobial resistance in medicine and animal husbandry, including carrying out work to raise its profile on the international scene.[13] Davies delegated authoring and editing her statutory annual reports to other doctors and healthcare practitioners, although she wrote an introduction to each and oversaw their compilation. She is particularly concerned about excessive alcohol consumption, especially by young women – who, she told the BBC in 2013, "we know can only take about half the alcohol that men can" and so are more prone to liver damage as a result.[14]

In July 2013, she was asked by the BBC whether she had ever favoured female doctors in order to counterbalance discrimination against them as a group. Davies replied: "I probably do positively discriminate because, as the men appoint in their own image, so do I appoint in my own image. I like having bright sparky women around, so I do understand how difficult it can be for the men to actually challenge the stereotypes and think differently".[7]

She regularly briefs Whitehall's most senior ministers and officials, including the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom herself.[citation needed] As of 2015, Davies was paid a salary of between £210,000 and £214,999 by the department, making her one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[15]

In her 2014 annual report, Davies said that the government needed to make tackling obesity a national priority. The report also made recommended a national audit of ovarian cancer, and challenged "taboos" around the menopause and incontinence "to make sure embarrassment is never a barrier to better health."[16]

In January 2016, Davies reduced the recommended weekly alcohol limit for men to that for women, in new guidelines warning of the association between alcohol consumption and some forms of cancer. The guidance gave a new weekly limit of 14 units, while at the same time saying there was no safe level of alcohol consumption.[17] The Financial Times said the two messages were "inherently contradictory"[18] and Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, revealed that drinking the maximum allowance set by Davies would be no more dangerous than eating bacon sandwiches or watching films.[19]

Awards and honours[edit]

In February 2013, Davies ranked the 6th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by the BBC Radio 4 programme Woman's Hour,[20] while in 2015 the Health Service Journal ranked her as the most influential woman in the English NHS and 14th most influential person.[21]

Davies was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to medicine in the 2009 New Year Honours.[22]

Davies was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014[2] and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2002.[11] She was awarded the Cameron Prize of the University of Edinburgh in 2017.

Personal life[edit]

Davies first married in 1974.[1] She remarried in 1982, but her second husband died that same year from leukaemia.[23] In 1989, she married her third husband – the Dutch haematologist Willem Ouwehand, the leader of the UK's National Blood and Transplant research group and a professor of haematology at the University of Cambridge with whom she has two daughters.[1]

She exercises twice a week, eats plenty of fresh vegetables and doesn't smoke.[24][25]

She lives in North London.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anon (2001). Davies, Dame Sally (Claire). ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U13126. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Anon (2014). "Dame Sally Davies DBE FMedSci FRS". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2016-03-11. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.

  3. ^ Anon (2014). "Professor Dame Sally Davies". gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  4. ^ a b "Professor Dame Sally Davies". BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  5. ^ "A Life in the Day of Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  6. ^ 12:00 (2014-03-16). "BBC Radio 3 – Private Passions, Sally Davies". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  7. ^ a b c "BBC Radio 4 – Woman's Hour, Woman's Hour Power List – Professor Dame Sally Davies". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  8. ^ "People of Today: Sally Claire Davies". Debretts. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  9. ^ Matt Ross. "Interview: Sally Davies". Civil Service World. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  10. ^ "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] UK Government Web Archive – The National Archives". Webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  11. ^ a b Anon (2002). "Fellow Professor Dame Sally Davies". acmedsci.ac.uk. London: Academy of Medical Sciences. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  12. ^ "Professor Dame Sally Davies (Doctor of Science) — University of Leicester". le.ac.uk. University of Leicester. 2014-05-01. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  13. ^ "UK calls for international action on antimicrobial resistance". Department of Health. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  14. ^ 10:00 (2013-07-23). "BBC Radio 4 – Woman's Hour, Professor Dame Sally Davies". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  15. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015". gov.uk. 2015-12-17. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  16. ^ "Chief Medical Officer calls for action on women's health". gov.uk. 2015-12-11. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  17. ^ Triggle, Nick (8 January 2016). "Alcohol limits cut to reduce health risks". BBC. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  18. ^ "Ambiguous health warnings — a danger with no safe limit". ft.com. London: Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-11-29. (subscription required)
  19. ^ "New alcohol health advice branded 'scaremongering'". theweek.co.uk. 2016-01-08. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  20. ^ "Woman's Hour Power list". BBC Radio 4. February 2013.
  21. ^ "HSJ100 2015". Health Service Journal. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  22. ^ "No. 58929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2008-12-31. p. 6.
  23. ^ "Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, 'ate hash cookies'". BBC. 18 August 2013. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  24. ^ "A Life in the Day of Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  25. ^ "England's medical chief gives stark alcohol warning". BBC. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  26. ^ Ben Martynoga (2015-05-29). "Inside the home of Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer". ft.com. Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-11-29.

 This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Government offices
Preceded by
Liam Donaldson
Chief Medical Officer for Her Majesty's Government
2010–
Succeeded by
Incumbent