Concerns over the length of time it is taking to recruit a permanent chief executive for NHS Grampian have been raised.
Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark MacDonald said there were “significant questions” over succession planning at the health board after he was told by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman that recruitment will not begin until the New Year.
In a letter to Mr McDonald, Ms Freeman revealed that a start date for whoever takes over the role has yet to be identified.
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Currently NHS Grampian has an interim chief executive Professor Amanda Croft, who took over the helm in the summer when her predecessor Malcolm Wright was drafted in to NHS Tayside to sort out its financial problems.
It has since been announced that Mr Wright is to become interim chief executive of NHS Scotland following the departure of Paul Gray.
In his letter to the health secretary, Mr McDonald said his constituents were “keen to understand” when NHS Grampian will be able to move forward with a permanently appointed leadership team.
Ms Freeman replied, saying: “The recruitment process is being taken forward by NHS Grampian. I understand that the post will be advertised in early 2019. When the successful candidate has been identified a start date will have to be negotiated with their current employer.”
Mr McDonald said: “It has been known since June that Malcolm Wright would be retiring and that a new, permanent, chief executive would need to be hired. Yet it will be over six months later that the post will be advertised, with a recruitment process to be gone through after that.
“This raises fairly significant questions about how succession planning is being handled by NHS Grampian, and in the intervening period many individuals who might have been candidates for the post may well have secured senior positions elsewhere.
“I hope that there will be no delays to the process and that some permanence can be established within the senior management structures in order to tackle the issues which the health service faces.”
A NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “Professor Amanda Croft has been providing interim leadership since Malcolm Wright’s secondment and subsequent retirement. Professor Croft has more than 25 years experience in the health service. She heads a extremely experienced senior leadership team.
“As confirmed by the cabinet secretary, a process to make a permanent appointment will begin in 2019.”