Work co-or­di­na­tion leads to NHS merger ru­mours

North of Scot­land boards hold­ing talks on greater co-op­er­a­tion

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - PAUL MA­LIK pa­ma­lik@the­courier.co.uk

NHS Tay­side has said it in­tends to “work closely” with the Grampian and High­land health boards fol­low­ing re­ports the three could merge.

It has been sug­gested that talks have be­gun which would re­sult in the re­moval of bound­aries be­tween the boards in the north of Scot­land.

The Tay­side health board said se­nior man­age­ment had held dis­cus­sions with its six coun­ter­parts – which con­sti­tute the North re­gion and in­clude High­lands, Grampian, Shet­land, Orkney and the West­ern Isles – to work on ex­ist­ing health and so­cial care part­ner­ship plans.

Talks be­tween the six have been fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing “a more co­or­di­nated ap­proach to plan­ning and de­liv­er­ing ser­vices” in the north, which con­sti­tutes a large ru­ral pop­u­la­tion.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment de­nied plans to merge the boards.

NHS Tay­side is still ac­tively seek­ing a chief ex­ec­u­tive, af­ter cur­rent in­terim boss Mal­colm Wright an­nounced he was to re­tire at the end of the year.

Mr Wright – who also serves as the chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Grampian – re­placed for­mer ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley McLay in April.

Ms McLay is still em­ployed by NHS Tay­side on – it is un­der­stood – full pay, hav­ing nei­ther re­signed nor been re­moved from her post.

Ms McLay was re­placed in April af­ter de­tails emerged of the board us­ing char­ity money to pay for staff IT equip­ment.

A se­nior Tay­side source said there was a prob­lem across Scot­land for health boards try­ing to re­cruit the right peo­ple to ex­ec­u­tive roles. it

They said: “It sounds to me like pol­icy mak­ing on the hoof with­out a real at­tempt to make sure that the fi­nal struc­ture was fit for pur­pose.

“At­tract­ing peo­ple to the ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions is a prob­lem as the salary is much lower than south of the bor­der and the treat­ment meted out to the for­mer board ex­ec­u­tives has caused a loss of morale.”

Dundee Labour coun­cil­lor Michael Marra warned a “su­per board” merger would not be in the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple of Dundee.

A spokesper­son for NHS Tay­side said: “The six health boards in the north of Scot­land have a long his­tory of work­ing to­gether to im­prove health ser­vices for the pop­u­la­tion and they are con­tin­u­ing to work closely to ad­dress is­sues such as the re­mote and ru­ral ge­og­ra­phy of many parts of the re­gion, work­force pres­sures and a grow­ing and age­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “There are ab­so­lutely no plans to merge health boards.”

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

Mal­colm Wright com­bines be­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of NHS Tay­side with NHS Grampian.

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