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McArthur seeks assurances over NHS Orkney chief executive role

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has written to the chairman of NHS Orkney, Ian Kinniburgh, seeking “specific assurance that the role of NHS Orkney Chief Executive will not be diluted in way”.

The call comes after a delay in advertising the post of NHS Orkney chief executive.

The current chief executive, Cathie Cowan, confirmed in September that she would be leaving to take up a similar post with NHS Forth Valley.

Responding to concerns, Mr Kinniburgh stated: “We need to be clear about where we are going.”

Mr McArthur, therefore, sought confirmation from the Health Secretary about the recruitment process. In response to his parliamentary question, the Health Secretary, Shona Robison said, “NHS Orkney is putting in place interim arrangements while proposals for the appointment of a new Chief Executive are developed.”

Concerned at what any new proposals might mean in practice, Mr McArthur has written to the Board’s Chairman asking for urgent clarification.

In his letter to Mr Kinniburgh, Mr McArthur wrote: “I am writing to request a specific assurance that the role of NHS Orkney Chief Executive will not be diluted in any way, for example through merging the role with another health board.

“As you will be well aware, this is already the case in relation to the shared chairmanship of NHS Orkney and Shetland, and Scottish Government proposals to review the number and makeup of health boards across the country has only given rise to further anxiety locally. In those circumstances, a clear and unequivocal commitment to retaining the role and function of NHS Orkney Chief Executive would be welcome.

Mr McArthur adds: “The future of local healthcare must reflect the distinct nature of healthcare provision in our island communities. I certainly welcome greater collaboration between health boards to ensure patients in Orkney get the treatment they need and deserve. However, I believe the unique needs of delivering healthcare in an island setting are best delivered with a dedicated NHS board with a dedicated Chief Executive.”

Following, Mr McArthur’s comments, Mrs Cowan also commented: “I note the concerns raised by Mr McArthur and would seek to reassure him that we are working hard on the interim arrangements. I hope to be in a position to make an announcement soon.​”​



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