NHS Lothian chairman resigns over 'fundamental differences' with health secretary Jeane Freeman

The chairman of NHS Lothian has quit over differences with the heath secretary - with the organisation labelled a "health board in crisis".

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 7:02 pm
Brian Houston has resigned as chairman of NHS Lothian

The chairman of NHS Lothian has resigned over “fundamental and irreconcilable differences” with health secretary Jeane Freeman, the Evening News can reveal.

Brian Houston has resigned as chairman of the board after coming under pressure over NHS Lothian being placed in special measures by the Scottish Government and the organisation being subject to an upcoming public inquiry relating to the problem-hit new Sick Kids Hospital.

An emergency meeting of non-executive board members will take place on Monday and it is believed that Mr Houston has offered to help whoever replaces him transition into the role.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh

Tim Davison, chief executive of NHS Lothian said: “It is with great regret that we learn of Brian Houston’s resignation as chair of the NHS Lothian board.

“He has been a fantastic chairman, highly visible in his role and bringing to us a wealth of useful and relevant insight and experience from his previous, highly successful career. Over the last seven years he has led the board with intelligent curiosity, rigour and vision, championing an innovation and quality agenda and supporting a kinder, values based culture.

“I’d like to thank Brian on my behalf and on behalf of my leadership team for the constructive challenge, support and wise counsel he has provided to us. He will be much missed by all of us and we wish him every future happiness.”

Read More

Read More
Edinburgh's new Sick Kids hospital could be delayed again, claims MSP

An insider has suggested that Mr Houston was under “immense pressure because of the Sick Kids” fiasco and that questions coming from both the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian staff had been a “double-edge sword”.

Scottish Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “This news is another example of the SNP’s dire mismanagement of our health service in Scotland.

“NHS Lothian has not had its troubles to seek but this news is a huge blow to an already fragile workforce that is now losing a second member of its senior management following the recent announcement of the retiral of their chief executive.

“I think what we need to establish next is what these differences between Jeanne Freeman and Mr Houston apparently mentioned in his resignation actually are and exactly what the cabinet secretary has been trying to force upon the management of NHS Lothian. “

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has accepted Mr Houston’s resignation.

She said: “Brian Houston has undertaken the role of chair of NHS Lothian since 2013 and I would like to wish him all the best for the future.

“Arrangements for an interim chair will be announced shortly.

“Work continues to deliver the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the department of clinical neuroscience with senior programme director Mary Morgan overseeing actions to ensure the safe delivery of the site.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said NHS Lothian is a “health board in crisis”.

He added: “This will come as a body-blow to NHS Lothian. There’s now a huge question mark over the leadership of the board.

“The board has been under immense pressure. Whilst the blame for that does not lie squarely at the feet of the health board, they have some questions to answer.

“I can understand Mr Houston’s frustration. The SNP have ridden roughshod over many aspects of the service and failed to give it adequate resources in other areas, particularly in child mental health and social care provision.”

The chief executive of NHS Lothian, Tim Davison, has announced he is set to retire from his position – adding to the leadership problems of the health board.

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: “I wonder if there’s now a case for the government to work with Tim Davison to see if they can extend the period before his retirement so that leadership continuity is assured.”