NHS Lothian vice-chair echoes departed chair's criticism of Scottish Government

Underfunding and a 'rush to blame' culture

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 6:00 am
Brian Houston resigned citing "fundamental and irreconcilable differences" with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

CRITICISMS of the Scottish Government made by former NHS Lothian chair Brian Houston when he quit two weeks ago were repeated by the vice-chair as he paid tribute to Mr Houston.

At a meeting of the health board yesterday, Martin Hill, who also chairs NHS Lothian’s finance committee, described Mr Houston as an “immensely experienced and talented leader”.

He said: “I have seen the dedication and energy put in to address the constant challenge of delivering the best possible service to patients whilst at the same time having to live within financial allocations which, by the Scottish Government’s own formula and despite NHS Lothian’s repeated protestations, amount to underfunding compared with other health boards, year after year.”

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On the eleventh-hour cancellation of the opening of the new Sick Kids hospital in July, Mr Hill said although an independent investigation had found governance arrangements operated as intended and a public inquiry months had yet to start work, “the Scottish Government contrived to put Brian in a position where he felt it necessary to resign”.

Mr Hill said: “I believe this reflects a ‘rush to blame’ culture, which goes against all their stated values, which threatens to undermine the supportive, innovative and developmental culture which has been so painstakenly built up through Brian’s leadership.”

In his resignation letter to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, Mr Houston accused the government of failing to treat the NHS Lothian board with dignity and respect.

Mr Hill told yesterday’s meeting: “I admire Brian’s honesty and integrity. He will be sorely missed, not only by NHS Lothan, but by the whole of the NHS in Scotland.”