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NHS Scotland chief executive resigns for health reasons

Image credit: Anna Moffat for Holyrood magazine

NHS Scotland chief executive resigns for health reasons

NHS Scotland chief executive and director general (DG) of health and social care Malcolm Wright has resigned for health reasons.

Wright, who took up the role in June last year with 40 years of experience across Scotland’s NHS, has tendered his resignation on health grounds due to an underlying medical condition.

The Scottish Government has split the role in two as an interim arrangement, to ensure there is “additional capacity to respond to the intense and challenging period of response and recovery from the COVID-19 emergency”.

Director for community health and social care, Elinor Mitchell, has been appointed interim DG and NHS Scotland chief performance officer John Connaghan appointed interim chief executive.

The interim arrangements will stay in place until the end of August, “at which point a view will be taken on commencing an open recruitment campaign”, the Scottish Government said in a statement.

Wright became interim chief executive and DG after Paul Gray stepped down in February last year, and was officially appointed to the role in June 2019.

He has been chief executive of six Scottish NHS bodies since the mid-1990s, and told Holyrood magazine in an interview last September that his plans in the top health job involved “a very ambitious programme of reform”.

“I’m somebody who came into the health service straight from school,” he said. “From a very early age, I’ve learnt about how health services can work, how they can serve vulnerable people, and how, by working together, we can make things better for individuals and families in a range of communities.”

Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman said: “I am very sorry that Malcolm Wright has had to resign from the chief executive of NHS Scotland and DG health and social care role.

“I know this was a difficult decision but one he has had to make for medical reasons. He leaves with my greatest respect and gratitude. I have valued the wealth of knowledge and experience that he brought to the role, especially at this challenging time. I wish him well for a happy and healthy future.

“I know that Elinor Mitchell and John Connaghan have worked closely with Malcolm as key members of his team and that they share my determination to equip our health and care system to meet the current challenges and to continue delivering an excellent service for the people of Scotland.

“I am confident they will continue to meet the challenges we face and continue to give our service the leadership it deserves.”

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