Work co-ordination leads to NHS merger rumours
North of Scotland boards holding talks on greater co-operation
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.”
Malcolm Wright combines being chief executive of NHS Tayside with NHS Grampian.