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NHS boss criticised government in resignation letter


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NHS boss criticised government in resignation letter

Image copyright Getty Images/NHS Lothian The former head of NHS Lothian has accused parts of the Scottish government of failing to treat the board with “dignity and respect”. Brian Houston quit as chairman of Scotland’s second largest health board on Thursday. BBC Scotland has now obtained a copy of his resignation letter in which he…

NHS boss criticised government in resignation letter

Brian HoustonImage copyright
Getty Images/NHS Lothian

The former head of NHS Lothian has accused parts of the Scottish government of failing to treat the board with “dignity and respect”.

Brian Houston quit as chairman of Scotland’s second largest health board on Thursday.

BBC Scotland has now obtained a copy of his resignation letter in which he warns of a “blame culture” in the NHS.

The Scottish government has been asked to respond to the claims in Mr Houston’s letter.

It reveals Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told Mr Houston to “accept accountability” for delays to Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital.

But Mr Houston took issue with this, claiming a “rush to judgement” before a public inquiry into the Sick Kids’ delay has started “appears to reflect a desire for blame that is unfair and inappropriate”.

The former management consultant’s letter states he disagreed with the personal performance appraisal he was given by Malcolm Wright, the chief executive of NHS Scotland, in November last year.

The health secretary backed this assessment of Mr Houston’s performance, according to the letter, and this prompted Mr Houston to resign.

Mr Houston said NHS Lothian had not been treated with “the values of openness and honesty, dignity and respect by some areas of the Scottish government”.

“This is particularly true in crisis situations when the behaviours we have been subject to have been totally counter to a values-based culture and are prejudicial to its development,” it adds.

Image caption

Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital is now not scheduled to open until the autumn after a series of delays

NHS Lothian has faced a series of challenges in recent years and has been placed on the Scottish government’s “special measures” programme of managerial support for boards facing specific difficulties.

As well as waiting and treatment time challenges, last-minute safety concerns prevented the new Sick Kids hospital opening last year, despite the fact that NHS Lothian already commenced monthly £1.4m repayments for the facility.

‘Unfair and inappropriate’

Mr Houston’s letter to the health secretary said his board has been flagging up its performance issues to the Scottish government for years and he blamed a lack of proper funding for NHS Lothian.

He said: “We have consistently drawn the Scottish government’s attention to the requirement for a fundamental step change in infrastructure and capacity to serve a population that is growing at twice the Scottish average.

“Our assessment of the underlying issues and areas of support required have not been heeded and I therefore find your assessment of my performance in this regard to be unfair and inappropriate.”

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Mr Houston, also a non-executive director of Hibernian FC, claimed, “other boards have received tens of millions of over and above their allocation while NHS Lothian has received tens of millions below it” which he said put a “major limitation” on NHS Lothian.

On Thursday, Ms Freeman confirmed she had accepted Mr Houston’s resignation and wished him all the best for the future, adding that arrangements for an interim chairperson would be announced shortly.

Mr Houston’s resignation came two weeks after the chief executive of NHS Lothian announced his retirement.

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