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Global leader in patient safety and public health honoured by Northumbria University

20th July 2023

Recognised as an international champion of public health and health care quality and safety, Sir Liam Donaldson, has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Sir Liam was the 15th Chief Medical Officer for England, and the United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Adviser for more than a decade, from 1998 to 2010.

Throughout his time in this historic post, which was 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, Sir Liam served six Health Secretaries and two Prime Ministers, producing landmark reports which helped to shape health policy and legislation on smoke free public places, stem cell research, clinical governance, quality and safety of health care, infectious disease control, patient empowerment, poor clinical performance, medical regulation, and organ and tissue retention.

During his tenure, Sir Liam also led the Government’s response to a number of health issues and emergencies including: the SARS outbreak, the H1N1 influenza pandemic and the Harold Shipman investigations.

Having initially trained as a surgeon, Teesside-born Sir Liam went on to retrain in public health and has since held a series of prestigious posts in academia, public health practice and senior management, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Internationally, Sir Liam has served as member and Vice-Chairman of the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board and conceived of, founded, and led the World Alliance for Patient Safety, an initiative that has improved patient care on a global scale.

He has worked with Health Ministers, Chief Medical Officers and public health leaders across the world and is currently 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, Sir Liam 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, and was Chancellor of Newcastle University for 10 years until 2019.

Sir Liam has received many public honours for his work: from honorary doctorates from universities and fellowships from medical royal colleges, to the Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and being named the Queen's Honorary Physician, 1996 to 1999. He was also knighted in the 2002 New Year's Honours List.

Northumbria University recently announced ambitious plans to develop its Centre for Health and Social Equity, bringing together academics working on health, social care, education, wellbeing and equity issues onto one central base in the heart of Newcastle, on the University’s City Campus.

Upon receiving his honorary degree, Sir Liam said: “I am deeply grateful to be honoured by the University in this way. I have always admired the work that it does and how highly it is independently rated in so many dimensions of what a modern, global university seeks to achieve. As an alumnus, I look forward to contributing in any way I can to Northumbria’s academic ambitions, and being part of the University family.”
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