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by Tom Freeman
28 November 2018
NHS Scotland chief Paul Gray to step down

Paul Gray - David Anderson

NHS Scotland chief Paul Gray to step down

The top civil servant in charge of the NHS in Scotland will step down in February, the Scottish Government has announced.

Paul Gray, who has been chief executive of NHS Scotland and director general of health and social care for the Scottish Government since 2013, will leave both roles before a successor is appointed.

Chief Executive of NHS Tayside Malcolm Wright will take over on an interim basis.

The announcement comes after the latest stats showed the NHS in Scotland was continuing to fail its own targets, while a survey of 1,000 doctors revealed they thought NHS targets were being prioritised over patient care.

Gray oversaw health and social care integration, arguably the biggest reform of health services since devolution, but the latest Audit Scotland report warned it has not yet led to joined up financial planning between health boards and councils.

In a recent interview with Holyrood’s sister title Civil Service World, Gray had talked about his plans for the next three to five years.

“I’m often telling people that although we are at the 70th anniversary for the NHS we’ve had two years of health and social care integration, and people tell me it is not yet perfect, I ask them to give us the other 68 years, although I don’t expect it to take that long, I genuinely don’t,” he said.

“I think there has been serious progress in health and social care integration, but let’s allow that progress to bed in rather than taking the stance that it is not yet perfect and therefore there must be something wrong with it. There’s a great deal that is working very well.”

On the announcement of his departure, health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Paul will remain in post until February, continuing to lead health boards throughout the winter months. I would like to offer him my sincere and personal thanks for his work over the last five years, and my best wishes for the future contribution I know he will make.

“I look forward to working with Malcolm Wright, who brings a wealth of senior management experience to the role.”

Former NHS Grampian boss Wright was moved to Tayside by former health secretary Shona Robison when she placed the health board under special measures because of financial irregularities. He was due to retire at the end of this year.

Grant Archibald has been appointed as the new chief executive of NHS Tayside.

A BMA survey of around 1,000 Scottish doctors found 72 per cent believe national targets and directives are being prioritised over patient care in Scotland. Only six per cent believe current staffing levels are adequate for quality patient care, while 71 per cent think overall services in the NHS have deteriorated in the past year.

More than a third of respondents said bullying and harassment was an issue at work, at a time when NHS Highland is being investigated after over 100 doctors complained about a “culture of bullying” at the health board.

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