President's response to the CMO's annual report

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE FRS FMedSci, has called for a “re-positioning of the role of health in society” as she publishes her annual report today (Friday 21 December). Read our President's response below.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“I couldn’t agree more with the CMO that we have the potential to dramatically improve health by 2040 – but this will only happen if we make intelligent changes now.

“Without doubt, we need a comprehensive approach. This means finding smarter ways to reduce unhealthy behaviour, while at the same time changing culture to enable the NHS to lead the “fourth industrial revolution” by responsibly using patient data to improve healthcare.

“We need to see better digital literacy amongst the NHS workforce, accompanied by a cultural shift in the way patient data is used to support health and care. We know from recently speaking to patients, however, that they want technology to support doctors, not replace them.

“If we are going to make the most of new health technologies, such as wearables to help people with diabetes, heart diseases and other long term conditions, the CMO is right that we need to put in place effective but flexible regulation to make sure the devices are safe, work effectively and offer value for money.

“In addition, we will only design and implement new health technologies effectively if we develop them in partnership with patients and the public. We are calling for our new principles on governing the effective use of technologies using patient data - developed with views of the public - to be adopted by the NHS, medical technology companies, regulators and academia.

“I am glad that the CMO also flagged the importance of tackling multimorbidity – our report this year highlighted that too many people with multiple serious conditions are living with long term disability and dying prematurely. This area has been in the shadows for too long and making this area a priority would potentially benefit millions of patients in the future.

”We can afford to be optimistic about our future health, but only if we make the right decisions now.”

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