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by Tom Freeman
01 March 2019
NHS Highland chair and medical director quit ahead of bullying report

Raigmore hospital - credit Dave Conner

NHS Highland chair and medical director quit ahead of bullying report

NHS Highland chair David Alston quit the health board yesterday with immediate effect, and was followed by medical director Dr Rod Harvey.

The former Liberal Democrat councillor has been chair since 2016, while Harvey has been medical director for five years.

The sudden resignations come weeks before an investigation into bullying allegations at the health board is due to be published.

John Sturrock QC’s probe was prompted by a group of whistleblowing doctors who complained of a “culture of fear and intimidation” from leadership.

The two resignations follow the retirement of chief executive Elaine Meade at the end of last year.

The board also has struggled financially, with Audit Scotland reporting “significant financial challenges”.

In a statement, Alston said: "Throughout my time with NHS Highland, we have seen many changes and have overcome many challenges. However, the need for change continues and is probably now greater than ever."

He added: “I believe a new chair at this time will provide a fresh approach and enable the service to look forward with confidence.”

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has appointed former Sabhal Mòr Ostaig College principal Professor Boyd Robertson as the interim chairman, who joins new chief executive Iain Stewart.

Freeman said: “It is vital that NHS Highland, under the direction of Professor Robertson and Iain Stewart, moves forward at pace addressing the known priority areas of improvement required including finance and service delivery and embracing fully the work needed from John Sturrock QC’s review when finalised.

“The priority, as always across NHS Scotland, is safe and effective patient care, and I am confident that under their leadership, people across the Highlands will receive the excellent level of service they deserve.”

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