Contact us on 01851 705743 or
email info@welovestornoway.com

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is expected to ramp up the pressure on NHS Western Isles and the Scottish Government to rethink the way they choose people to serve on the local health board.

It follows the high-profile resignation last week of Councillor Angus McCormack in protest at the number of non-executive directors which have been appointed in recent years who have little or no connection with the islands.

It follows confirmation that a consultant called Tim Ingram who seems to be based in Aberdeen, and who since his NHS appointment has also been appointed to the board of CalMac, is now the vice-chair of the health board.

That appointment appears to have triggered considerable discontent and prompted made Cllr McCormack jump ship and make his views on the matter very public. It has emerged there are several absentee non-executive directors with one living on the south coast of England.

New vice-chair Mr Ingram has not responded to media enquiries directed to the Aberdeen office of his company but the health board has hit back saying it does not agree with Cllr McCormack's reasons for quitting. It said the non-executive director posts are advertised openly and involves a well-established and non-discriminatory selection process.

"The vice-chair is selected based on an ‘expression of interest’, fair appraisal and interview process. The vice-chair is then formally appointed by the Cabinet Secretary."

Cllr McCormack was the comhairle's nominated representative on the board and had also previously served for around 10 years. His view is that the entire appointments process set up by the Scottish Government, which rubber-stamps all such appointments, is not fit for purpose as it leads to situations where competent and suitably-experienced local candidates are simply excluded.

Now the comhairle is set to examine that controversial process in detail next month. Its spokesman said that all councillors will have an opportunity to discuss the matter at the full comhairle meeting on Friday December 9. It also said the comhairle believed that local knowledge, insight, accountability and diversity is essential on all public bodies serving the Western Isles.

Comhairle Leader Paul Steele added: "I don’t think that there is a shortage of the required skills in our islands. There must be scope to build these attributes into the appointments process to local Health Boards.”