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Dame Fiona Caldicott

Dame Fiona Caldicott


In 1990 Professor Dame Fiona Caldicott became the College’s first female Dean, and then in 1993 was elected as the first female President of the College.

Among her many contributions as President, she supported the setting up of the Women in Mental Health Special Interest Group, which is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary.

In her final year as President she took the role as chair of the Academy of Royal Colleges.

Her performance in this roles led to the Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales inviting Dame Fiona to lead a review on how patient information was protected in a new world where data was starting to be recorded on networked IT systems.

A recommendation that NHS organisations should each have a ‘guardian’ to safeguard patient confidentiality was also part of the Caldicott report in 1997, leading to the introduction of what became known as Caldicott Guardians a year later. Today there are over 22,000 Caldicott Guardians, throughout Britain and overseas.

Dame Fiona subsequently became Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, and also served as the Pro Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, with responsibilities for personnel and equal opportunities.

She was also Chair of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between 2009-2019.

While she was with the trust, she promoted embedding of a set of values across the whole workforce.

When the RCPsych introduced its own values – of Courage, Innovation, Respect, Collaboration, Learning and Excellence – in 2018, she invited the College Chief Executive and Director of HR for a visit, so they could see how workplace values can have a real and lasting impact, if rolled out in a proactive fashion.

In 2011, aged 70, she became chair of the National Information Governance Board, saying she ‘wanted to leave information governance in a good state’.

She was asked to lead a second inquiry in 2012-23 – the Information Governance Review – with the aim of finding the right balance between protecting patient confidentiality and sharing enough information to improve patient care. She conducted this inquiry rigorously and it led to a seventh Caldicott Principle being introduced, as well as all 26 recommendations being accepted by the Government.

Dame Fiona became the National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care in 2015, and conducted a third review this time focusing on data security, consent and opt outs. She was delighted when in 2018 Parliament passed legislation – supported by all parties – to make the National Data Guardian role permanent in statute.

The same year, Dame Fiona was awarded the RCPsych Lifetime Achievement Award by the College – there could be no more deserving winner. 

Dame Fiona died on Monday 15 February 2021, aged 80, having achieved an extraordinary amount in her career, making many friendships and inspiring many people on the way.

Read the College's obituary to Dame Fiona..


Reflecting on the portrait of Professor Dame Fiona Caldicott

As part of a project to try to better understand the RCPsych presidents’ portraits, we have interviewed past presidents and the artists who painted them. 

Read more about the portrait of Professor Dame Fiona Caldicott.

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry