The Department of Health and Social Care has appointed consultant epidemiologist Thomas Waite as the new deputy chief medical officer for England.
Waite succeeds Sir Jonathan Van-Tam in the role, which supports chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty on health protection and also covers emergency response and preparedness, infectious diseases, vaccines and therapeutics.
Van-Tam achieved celebrity status for his appearances at the government’s daily Covid briefings during the worst phases of the pandemic, but also worked behind the scenes on the Covid Taskforce and supporting the development of treatments. He announced in January that he would step down from his role as DCMO at the end of last month to return to the University of Nottingham as pro vice-chancellor for its faculty of medicine and health sciences.
DHSC offered a salary of up to £149,000 a year in its campaign to find a successor. Whitty's current salary as chief medical officer is banded at £205,000-£209,999 – £30,000 a year more than DHSC perm sec Sir Chris Wormald, according to the Cabinet Office's most recent civil service high-earners list.
Waite graduated in medicine from Cardiff University and holds postgraduate qualifications in public health, medical toxicology and medical education.
He helped create and lead the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which provided evidence-based analysis to inform local and national decision-making in response to Covid-19, and has been interim deputy chief medical officer since last May.
Whitty said Waite had an excellent track record of delivery.
“His wealth of experience in epidemiology and emergency preparedness will benefit the government’s ongoing public health responses as well as help us to prepare for future events,” he said.
Waite said he was delighted to be appointed to the role of deputy chief medical officer for health protection.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity of working with teams throughout the country to develop our preparedness for health hazards and emergencies and to protect the health of the public,” he said.
After his medical and public health training, Waite held posts in global health, infectious disease and environmental health protection.
More recently he was director of the UK Field Epidemiology Training Programme and helped establish the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, leading its first overseas deployment to Ethiopia.