Replies - or not - from a Question to the Chief Medical Officers


Invest in ME Research has frequently contacted the Chief Medical Officer of England over the years that the charity has been in existence.

Often these have been associated with requests to attend our international conferences – conveniently located just a couple of hundred meters from the CMO’s office.

Last year we arranged for a meeting with all CMOs of the UK in London. All agreed – and in the end we met with the Deputy CMO of England who was apparently covering all UK bases.

A list of points was arranged to be discussed [1].

And nothing happened.

In our Christmas / New Year Fund Appeal Advent Calendar we looked at the function of the UK Chief Medical Officers.

However, rather than send in another request, another list of points, we decided instead to do things differently.

In this United Kingdom (which appears less and less united as the years go by) we put one simple question to the CMOs of the UK – something which they could easily answer.

We allowed them to address, via Invest in ME Research, the ME community – the patients, the families, the carers, the friends, as well as the wider public.

In our 2018 Advent Calendar we asked the CMOs of the UK One Simple Question




and the replies.............

Below are the replies from the CMOs of the UK - click on the icons to view them




It is all too easy, yet unacceptable, for establishment entities who are responsible to the public to abrogate their responsibilities.

Only the Chief Medical Officer of England - Dame Sally Davis - has avoided any acknowledgement of our letter and has provided no answer.

We wrote to Dame Sally Davis three times - no acknowledgement, no reply, no interest!

This is, sadly, typical of Dame Sally Davis' attention to ME during her tenure as Chief Medical Officer of England.

Her office, in our opinion, has been completely negligent in making any progress in the perception, treatment or research into  ME.

She will vacate that office this year after 8 years in that role - though it is unlikely any ME patient or their family will notice her departure.

Whilst the usual sycophantic establishment applause for her tenure comes forth people with ME can instead look at eight years of apathy regardng ME from the CMO of England.

Dame Sally now leaves for a new job.
But let us revisit the press release when she was appointed.

When Sally Davis came to the role of CMO of England this was the official establishment commentary - extolling the attributes and describing the responsibilities -

Professor Dame Sally Davies was today named as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the first woman to hold the post.

The CMO is the Government’s most senior medical advisor, responsible for providing expert advice on a wide range of issues relating to the health of the nation, including the handling of health related emergencies.

Dame Sally, who has been interim CMO since May, will take up the post with immediate effect. She currently holds the post of Director-General for Research and Development and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health.

Key responsibilities for the role will include:

  • supporting the Health Secretary on the creation of a public health service for England;

  • providing professional leadership for Directors of Public Health and leading a public health professional network for those responsible for commissioning and providing public health services;

  • supporting the Health Secretary in strengthening the Government’s collective effort to help improve the health and well-being of the people of England; and

  • playing a leading role in other activities and stakeholder relationships beyond Government to promote the need to improve people’s health.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

"I am delighted to be asked to become the Chief Medical Officer for England and take this opportunity as the professional lead to strengthen public health in this country. I am honoured to be the 16th person and first woman to join the prestigious ranks of Chief Medical Officer and I look forward to working with everyone to improve the health of the nation."

Congratulating Dame Sally on her appointment, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

"I am delighted that Sally has been appointed Chief Medical Officer. In her time at the Department, and in particular over the last nine months as interim CMO, she has demonstrated her expert knowledge of her field and provided invaluable advice to Ministers on a broad range of issues from flu to nutrition to health protection. She will play a key role in developing the new public health service, shaping the way the Department improves and protects the public’s health. I look forward to working closely with her."

The CMO role carries the rank of Permanent Secretary and is responsible to the Secretary of State for Health for all of the Department’s medical matters. The CMO is also the professional head of the Department’s medical staff and head of the Medical Civil Service.

Further information

  1. 1. Dame Sally is the 16th person to hold the post of Chief Medical Officer. More information about the role, and holders of the post, can be found here

  2. 2. The CMO has a centrally important role to play in the delivery of the Department’s key objectives. As the UK Government's principal medical adviser, she will be expected to:
    • provide, clear, independent and evidence based advice to the Secretary of State for Health and the Government on all matters relating to the nation’s health and on clinical aspects of the National Health Service;

    • bring together key partners to improve and protect the public’s health within and beyond government, as part of a proposed new public health system in England;

    • build on collaborative relationships with colleagues in the devolved administrations, representing the UK internationally on public health issues;

It is quite easy to examine her record on these objectives, when assessing ME.

  • We saw no professional leadership

  • We saw no support for the Health Secretary in strengthening the Government’s collective effort to help improve the health and well-being of the people with ME in England

  • We saw no leading role being played in other activities and stakeholder relationships beyond Government to promote the need to improve people with ME’s health

    We saw no clear, independent and evidence based advice to the Secretary of State for Health and the Government on anything related to ME

    We saw no efforts made to bring together key partners to improve and protect the health of people with ME within and beyond government,

  • as part of any proposed new public health system in England; Indeed, Invest in ME Research has done far more

  • We saw no building of collaborative relationships with colleagues in the devolved administrations regarding ME, and no efforts

  • to represent the UK internationally on issues surrounding ME

From our viewpoint we see that Sally Davis achieved nothing for ME.

As far as ME is concerned her term in office marks a period of abject failure - with hundreds of thousands of citizens - children, parents, carers - left with no real change in status since the 2002 CMO report made by her predecessor.

Another ineffective establishment hindrance to progress.

As with the establishment in UK [3] failure is always an option.

Further Reading:

Last Update 2/05/2019

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