Scot­tish Govern­ment urged to in­ves­ti­gate NHS Fife lead­er­ship

Claim those who raise ques­tions are left ‘iso­lated’

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - CLAIRE WARRENDER cwar­ren­der@the­

The Scot­tish Govern­ment has been urged to in­ves­ti­gate the lead­er­ship of one of Scot­land’s big­gest health boards.

Morale at NHS Fife is said to be at rock bot­tom amid claims any­one who chal­lenges se­nior man­age­ment is be­ing “side­lined and iso­lated”.

Sources claim the cul­ture has led to a lack of scru­tiny and gov­er­nance and led to fears of a risk to health­care de­liv­ery.

NHS Fife ro­bustly de­nied the claims, say­ing gov­er­nance ar­range­ments are con­stantly re­viewed and board mem­bers “ac­tively en­cour­aged” to hold se­nior man­age­ment to ac­count at every op­por­tu­nity.

But Scot­tish Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Willie Ren­nie said he was con­cerned there was some­thing wrong at the heart of the or­gan­i­sa­tion fol­low­ing the loss of a chair­man, a se­nior di­rec­tor and two se­nior board mem­bers in less than two years.

“Th­ese are all se­nior peo­ple with out­stand­ing records of pub­lic ser­vice and lead­er­ship,” he said.

The North-East Fife MSP said he had had con­cerns about NHS Fife for more than seven months and had spo­ken di­rectly to the Scot­tish Govern­ment about them ear­lier this year.

“The con­cerns have fo­cused around the cul­ture that has been presided over by the chair Tri­cia Mar­wick and the chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Hawkins,” he said.

“Those who ques­tion and chal­lenge are side­lined and iso­lated. As a re­sult, morale is at rock bot­tom.”

The lat­est de­par­ture was last week’s res­ig­na­tion of non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Si­mon Lit­tle. He was chair­man of the Fife Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship and his res­ig­na­tion, just weeks be­fore a fi­nal de­ci­sion was due on the fu­ture of out-of-hours GP ser­vices in the re­gion, was greeted with wide­spread dis­may.

Mr Lit­tle had chaired pub­lic meet­ings on the is­sue and ac­cepted a pe­ti­tion against cen­tral­is­ing the ser­vice.

He de­clined to comment on why he left NHS Fife but The Courier un­der­stands he felt iso­lated af­ter ask­ing dif­fi­cult ques­tions.

His res­ig­na­tion fol­lows the de­par­ture of chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Scott McLean in July af­ter an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion dis­missed anony­mous claims of mis­con­duct against him.

Non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Pater­son quit in Jan­uary af­ter claim­ing he could no longer “ad­e­quately dis­charge” his du­ties as gov­er­nance group chair­man.

Pre­vi­ous chair­man Allan Burns left his post early in December 2016 amid claims of a “chal­leng­ing re­la­tion­ship” with se­nior man­age­ment. It is un­der­stood he also raised con­cerns with the Scot­tish Govern­ment about the en­vi­ron­ment the board op­er­ates in.

Mr Ren­nie added: “The board and lead­er­ship has been weak­ened by th­ese de­par­tures and I am wor­ried about the im­pact on per­for­mance. With a weaker board and lack of a proper chal­lenge the risk to the de­liv­ery of health­care is real.”

He added: “I be­lieved that the is­sues were be­ing re­solved ear­lier this year but the re­cent de­par­ture of Si­mon Lit­tle means that ques­tions must be asked.

“The Scot­tish Govern­ment needs to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into NHS Fife.”

Pic­ture: Kris Miller.

The lead­er­ship of Fife’s Health board has been called into ques­tion.

NHS Fife chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Hawkins.

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