Health and social care city merger in crisis as chiefs quit

Robert McCulloch-Graham left under an agreement with the council and NHS Lothian. Picture: Contributed
Robert McCulloch-Graham left under an agreement with the council and NHS Lothian. Picture: Contributed
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THE merger between health and social care in the Capital has been plunged into crisis after two senior executives charged with overseeing the move quit days before care staff and nurses are due to begin working together.

The city council confirmed last night that Maria McIlgorm has followed her boss Robert McCulloch-Graham, chief officer of Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care Partnership, out the door.

Mr McCulloch-Graham was placed on gardening leave on Monday and left two days later after coming to a mutual agreement with the council and NHS Lothian. The council confirmed Ms McIlgorm, who was chief strategy and performance officer, had also left.

Both executives came under pressure after key performance targets were missed amid a damning report from Scotland’s care watchdog in May which was described as “one of the worst reports ever”.

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland identified four key areas as “weak” and one as “unsatisfactory”.

The Integrated Joint Board (IJB) model of delivering care for the city’s ageing population is now under scrutiny with union bosses calling for either NHS Lothian or the City of Edinburgh Council to assume overall control.

Unison Branch chairman Tom Waterson, said: “I don’t believe there was a proper structure put in place to support the IJB Board and support the chief officer. However, I do believe that IJBs, and not just in Edinburgh, have been set up to fail. I think when IJBs were created the easiest option for the health board and local government was to create a further bureaucratic quango when actually what should have happened is either local government or the health board took control of the whole 
thing.

“So, one organisation should have become the lead agency, that hasn’t happened and it’s a mess. For staff, this is just more uncertainty, this is the second chief officer in three years that has left the post.”

Mr McCulloch-Graham, a former teacher who earned a salary of more than £100,000 per year, will be replaced on an interim basis for six months by his colleague Michelle Miller, the chief social work officer for Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership.

Andrew Parfery, chief commercial officer of Edinburgh-based Care Sourcer Ltd, said: “The reality of finding care in Edinburgh is that you will be added to the 1500 people currently waiting for an assessment by the local authority.

“If assessed as having a critical need you will then be added to a waiting list of 500 people waiting for a care service. If you are delayed in hospital you will wait on average 29 days once medically fit to be discharged.”

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Chair of Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, said: “Robert McCulloch-Graham has left the post of Chief Officer to the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership.”

kevan.christie@jpress.co.uk