The new “nation's doctor” may find it lonely at the top

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 25 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:233

The new chief medical officer for England, Professor Liam Donaldson, who will take up his post in September, tells Hilary Bower that he wants to put quality at the top of the agenda

Professor Liam Donaldson could not have arranged a better week to be named the next chief medical officer for England. The announcement of his appointment followed a wave of NHS good news, including new cash and more staff. But Professor Donaldson has no illusions that this will be the norm.

No stranger to controversy--he was health authority manager in charge of the Cleveland crisis over child sexual abuse and published the first ever in depth survey into “problem” doctors--he has already prepared his talisman for troubling times. “On really stressful occasions,” he declares, “I shall wear my Newcastle United football strip under my shirt. That will give me some kind of confidence.”

Although this is obviously an act of faith over intellect given the team's dismal performance last season, Professor Donaldson is not one to crumble under a little local difficulty. A kind of medical Renaissance man--he has been GP, surgeon, public health doctor, medical academic, and, since 1986, a medical manager. In 1994 …

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