Highlands & Islands

NHS Highland to have third chief executive in just over a year

Iain Stewart Image copyright NHS Highland
Image caption Iain Stewart was appointed NHS Highland's chief executive in January last year

NHS Highland is to have its third chief executive in just over a year.

Elaine Meade left the health board in late December 2018 and Iain Stewart was appointed the following month.

It has now been announced Mr Stewart will leave the post before the end of this month to take up the role of chief executive at NHS Orkney.

NHS Fife chief Paul Hawkins will be seconded to NHS Highland, which runs services in the Highlands and Argyll and Bute, as interim chief executive.

The health board has been dealing with allegations of a "culture of bullying", which were made public in September 2018 and later examined in an independent review led by John Sturrock QC.

Mr Stewart has been overseeing plans designed to resolve past grievances related to bullying, and to help prevent further incidents.

Dr Iain Kennedy, one of a group of clinicians who spoke out about bullying, told BBC Scotland that Mr Stewart had brought "kindness and compassion" to the board.

The Inverness-based GP said: "He was instrumental in changing the atmosphere in the headquarters of NHS Highland to a more welcoming and approachable one, so we are sorry to see him go."

Dr Kennedy said the timing of the announcement was "surprising" and he had concerns what effect Mr Stewart's departure would have on the "pace of change" at NHS Highland.

Image caption Dr Iain Kennedy, among GPs who spoke out about bullying, has concerns about the latest changes at the top of NHS Highland

Mr Stewart is taking on an executive role within NHS Orkney ahead of eventually becoming chief executive after the phased retirement of current boss Gerry O'Brien.

NHS Highland's chairman Prof Boyd Robertson said: "I would like to thank Iain for his valued contribution towards NHS Highland over the past year.

"Iain has overseen the development of our response to the Sturrock Report through the Culture Fit for the Future programme and has led the organisation on our journey towards financial recovery.

"I would like to wish Iain all the very best in his new role within NHS Orkney."

Mr Stewart thanked staff for their hard work, adding: "It has been an absolute pleasure working here."

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