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Western Isles health chief quits after being convicted of drink-driving

Stornoway Sheriff Court.
Stornoway Sheriff Court.

A senior Western Isles health chief has quit his post after a drink driving incident.

William Findlay was twice the legal limit, Stornoway Sheriff Court was told.

In the middle of a pandemic, William Findlay – who holds a law degree – resigned as chief operating officer for NHS Western Isles. He was also the islands’ chief nursing director.

The 35-year-old was banned from driving for a year when his case called at Stornoway Sheriff Court today.

He was also fined £400 plus a victim surcharge of £20.

Findlay did not appear in person but mainland lawyers lodged a letter pleading guilty to drink driving on his behalf.

William Findlay.

The court heard the incident occurred on Oliver’s Brae on the outskirts of Stornoway, at 5am on October 4 while he had a breath alcohol reading of 50mcg against the legal maximum of 22mcg.

A not guilty plea to careless driving – causing “substantial damage” to his car by losing control of the vehicle, leaving the road, mounting a grass verge and colliding with a lamppost was accepted by the procurator fiscal.

He had also been accused of failing to report a traffic accident within 24 hours but the fiscal also accepted a not guilty plea on that charge.

Findlay resigned very soon after the incident.

‘Matter of good fortune that nobody was hurt’

Sherriff Gordon Lamont highlighted the health boss breath test showed “more than double the legal amount of alcohol at a very early time of day, just after 5am”.

The sheriff said it was a “matter of good fortune nobody was hurt.”

Findlay – who celebrates his 36th birthday next week – has left his Stornoway address and relocated to the mainland, the court was told.

A Western Isles NHS spokesperson said: “William Findlay resigned from his post as Nurse/AHP Director/Chief Operating Officer in October.”

At the time, coronavirus was spreading throughout the Uist community – the most serious outbreak in the islands. The islands’ only covid death was recorded over this period.

Before moving to the Western Isles in 2018, Findlay had an illustrious career in the health sector.

He graduated from the University of Stirling with a BScN, RN (Adult) and since worked at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Stirling Royal Infirmary in Cardiac and Critical Care.

In 2007, he moved to Vancouver, Canada and held clinical leadership positions before moving into management and then executive leadership.

Briefly, he moved into the private sector and held a Professional Conduct Review Consultant post with the regulatory body for Nursing in British Columbia.

In 2013, he completed a law degree which led him to the position of Director of Client Relations at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

In 2016 he also assumed the Interim Operations Director of the Central Coast (Bella Bella, Bella Coola), which then became a permanent part of his portfolio.

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