Mr Waterson from Bonnyrigg died in hospital in the early hours of yesterday (Thursday), after developing pneumonia.
A virtual meeting of Midlothian Integration Joint Board (IJB), at which Mr Waterson was a regular attendee, was told NHS Lothian staff had been informed of the father-of-two’s death earlier that day.
Carolyn Hirst, IJB vice-chairwoman, led the tributes to Mr Waterson, who was married to Pamela and had two children, Aeden and Erin.
She said: “He was a long serving member of the NHS beginning as a porter. Thoughts are with his family.”
Wanda Fairgrieve, IJB staff representative, said Mr Waterson’s death had come as a shock, but that he had been dealing with health issues over the last two years.
She said: “He lost a leg and developed sepsis and was admitted to hospital several times but he kept himself going.
“He leaves behind a lot of friends and colleagues as well as his wife and children, aged 11 and five, and all our thoughts are with his family.”
The board held a minute’s silence before moving into business, in tribute to Mr Waterson, who was NHS employee director and a well known figure in UNISON where he represented health workers at local, national and UK level.
He was a shop steward with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), before it amalgamated with the National and Local Government Officers Association (NALGO) and the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) to form UNISON in 1993.
Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland head of health said: “It is with sad regret that we have to advise that our good friend and comrade Tom Waterson, chairman of the UNISON Scotland health committee, has sadly passed away.
“Tam had been in and out of hospital over the last two years, and he showed great courage during these times.
“Everyone at UNISON Scotland is shocked and our thought and prayers are with Pamela, Aeden and Erin at this difficult time.
“Tam was a committed socialist, trade unionist and strong campaigner, he will be terribly missed.”