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Dr Catherine Calderwood


Chief Medical Officer, Scotland Dr Catherine Calderwood is the first female Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Scotland and continues to work as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Catherine was born in Belfast and always wanted to be a doctor. Both her parents were doctors, and mealtime discussions for her were mesmerising.

She studied at the University of Cambridge and graduated with her medical degree from the University of Glasgow in 1993. Catherine was a junior doctor working in medical specialities in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. She completed her specialist training in obstetrics and gynaecology and maternal medicine in South-East Scotland and at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Since her appointment in 2006, Catherine has worked as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with an interest in obstetric medicine in NHS Lothian. She has special interests in maternal medicine, obstetric ultrasonography and high-risk pregnancy, including thromboembolic disease in pregnancy. She is an investigator on the AFFIRM study which is examining the effect of the introduction of a standardised education and management plan for the care of women presenting with decreased foetal movements in hospitals throughout the UK and Ireland. Catherine became a Medical Adviser to the Scottish Government in 2010 and has been instrumental with the work involved in reducing stillbirths and neonatal deaths in Scotland and in reducing avoidable harm in maternity services. While in this role, she helped launch Maternity Care Quality Improvement Collaborative. In 2013, Catherine was part of the expert panel set up by Jeremy Hunt to examine concerns over what appeared to be a spate of unnecessary deaths in the maternity unit at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. She was also National Clinical Director for maternity and women’s health for NHS England and promoted the first friends and family test in maternity services in 2014. Catherine was Acting Deputy CMO in Scotland, supporting Dr Aileen Keil who had been Acting CMO of Scotland from April 2014 following the retirement of Sir Harry Burns. In February 2015, Catherine was appointed as the new CMO of Scotland, the first female to take up this post, in what she considers one of her proudest achievements. In January 2016, Catherine launched her first annual report as CMO for Scotland, which focused on ‘Realistic Medicine’ and challenged modern medicine to rethink priorities. It was universally well received amongst doctors, nurses and allied health professionals across the world. Being able to influence change is something Catherine sees as a huge reward of her job. More recently her role expanded to include major trauma services and the introduction of robotic surgery for prostate cancer to Scotland.

Despite many challenges along the way, Catherine believes that it is “best to tackle problems head on rather than wait and hope that they disappear or that someone else takes the problems away.” She feels hugely supported in her role and has learnt a great deal from many colleagues she has worked with – midwives, doctors and managers – and admits that the best are great communicators, transparent and working for the agenda of improving care for patients, and not their own agenda. These hard-working individuals, who go the extra mile, are the people who inspire Catherine every day. Catherine is married and lives with her husband and their three children. * Favourite Film: Mamma Mia – my daughters love it * Three objects Catherine cannot live without: My 3 children, Mobile phone, Laptop

Catherine’s advice to junior doctors is “Ask the patient their priorities for treatment and outcomes.”


Medical Woman | Spring 2017

Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...

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