Scottish Government urged to investigate NHS Fife leadership
Claim those who raise questions are left ‘isolated’
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.”
The leadership of Fife’s Health board has been called into question.
NHS Fife chief executive Paul Hawkins.