Hopes NHS chief will be ‘new broom’ to tackle problems

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NEW NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison was today urged to be a “new broom” to tackle the problems besetting the health service.

Mr Davison was set to take up his interim role today following the departure of controversial predecessor Professor James Barbour, who retired on Friday.

Unison officials said they would be seeking a meeting with Mr Davison this week to discuss issues such as the waiting times scandal, adding that they believed the new chief was “someone we can work with”.

Mr Davison had been chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire since May 2005 after moving from his job as chief executive of North Glasgow University Hospitals Division.

Said to be “outspoken”, when he took on the Glasgow job in 2002, he pledged to spend time talking to frontline staff.

But he has faced criticism in the past for scrapping plans for a minor injuries unit in Cumbernauld in 2010, and axing Monklands’ A & E in Coatbridge in 2006.

Last month, an investigation into “inappropriate and oppressive management styles” at NHS Lothian was ordered after large-scale manipulation of waiting list figures was uncovered. Staff had suspended up to 5000 patients from the waiting list to hit targets for treating people within 18 weeks of referral, with auditors reporting that workers fiddled figures because they felt pressured by senior managers.

Tom Waterson, Lothian branch chairman for Unison, said: “Tim Davison obviously has challenges ahead of him but he needs to sit down with the trade union and discuss where to go from here.

“Now that the former chief executive has gone, Mr Davison needs to be able to discuss these matters without people fearing for their jobs. I’ve spoke to colleagues about him and believe he is someone we can work with. Mr Davison calls a spade a spade and he has a real opportunity here to be a new broom.”

Jackie Baillie MSP, Labour’s health spokeswoman, said: “In the medium to long-term, one of the biggest challenges is to make sure the new Sick Kids Hospital goes ahead on time.

“And more than that, NHS Lothian is facing, like any health board in Scotland, budget cuts which will mean cuts to staff. That puts pressure on the remaining staff for waiting times and providing treatment.”

Mr Davison joined the NHS as a management trainee and worked his way up.

While boss of the Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust, Mr Davison came under fire for building a “mini-Carstairs” secure unit at Stobhill Hospital.