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Who will replace Jonathan Van-Tam? Why deputy chief medical officer is stepping down, and what’s his new role

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam joined the Department for Health and Social Care in 2017

Jonathan Van-Tam has stepped down as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, but why did he resign and who will replace him?

Here’s what you need to know.

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Why is Jonathan Van-Tam leaving his role?

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam will step down as Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) for England at the end of March 2022 to take up a new role at the University of Nottingham.

He joined the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) on secondment from the University of Nottingham in 2017 and will return to be the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Sir Jonathan has played an important role in a number of different incidents during his time as DCMO, including domestic outbreaks of MERS and monkeypox, the 2017 to 2018 influenza season, the response to the novichok attacks, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sir Jonathan said: “My time as DCMO has been the most challenging of my professional career, especially the Covid response. We all wish Covid had never happened. Notwithstanding, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the people of the UK during this time.

“I want to pay tribute to Professor Chris Whitty, the CMO team, my fellow scientists, public health professionals and clinicians whose support, wisdom and energy has been inspiring. There are countless numbers who work behind the scenes – all of whom have an unrelenting commitment to help and support the British public. It has been an honour to work with them all.”

Sir Jonathan will continue to work in his role as DCMO until the end of March.

Who will replace Jonathan Van-Tam?

It has not yet been announced as to who will replace Jonathan Van-Tam when he leaves his role as DCMO at the end of March.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It has been an honour to work side-by-side with Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam and I am hugely grateful for his advice and guidance since I became Health and Social Care Secretary.

“JVT’s one-of-a-kind approach to communicating science over the past two years has no doubt played a vital role in protecting and reassuring the nation, and made him a national treasure.

“I pay tribute to his relentless work ethic, sense of public duty and leading role in our incredible vaccination programme – on behalf of DHSC I wish him the best of luck on his return to the University of Nottingham.”

Professor Chris Whitty, who is the Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “Professor Van-Tam has been an outstanding DCMO and public servant. I am profoundly thankful for his steadfast support, advice, leadership and commitment. His communication of public health advice and science has been remarkable.”

University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West added: “All of us at the University are incredibly proud of Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam’s work as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, in which he has played a major role in steering the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am delighted that Jonathan is returning to Nottingham to join our executive team and lead our renowned Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as its next Pro-Vice-Chancellor.”