Scotland’s “very capable” deputy chief medical officer will replace Dr Catherine Calderwood following her resignation but it will be up to the First Minister to appoint a permanent successor, Jeane Freeman has said.
The Health Secretary said that Dr Gregor Smith will “take over the reins” after the former chief medical officer (CMO) resigned for repeatedly flouting guidance by visiting her second home.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Freeman praised Dr Smith, who will now step up and lead the group of healthcare professionals giving advice to ministers about the coronavirus outbreak.
Dr Smith is a GP and was a medical director for primary care in NHS Lanarkshire and adviser to the Scottish Government on primary care before being appointed deputy CMO in 2015.
Ms Freeman said: “We have a team of very experienced clinicians led now by Dr Gregor Smith, our deputy medical officer, but including Professor Fiona McQueen, our nursing officer, Professor Jason Leitch, our national clinical director – all of whom have been immersed in this for very, very many weeks now and bring a great deal to the collective advice that they give both the First Minister and I about what we need to do.
“That team carries on and the focus remains on doing what we need to do to steer the country as successfully through this pandemic as we possibly can.
“Dr Smith will take over the reins at this point.
“What happens as we go through the rest of the day and into the week will be for the First Minister to determine. But, certainly, Dr Smith is very capable.”
Dr Calderwood, 51, had been Scotland’s chief medical officer since 2015 but agreed to resign on Sunday evening, a day after the Scottish Sun published photos of her with her family visiting her second home in Fife, contrary to her own warnings to avoid unnecessary travel.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had wanted Dr Calderwood to remain in the role, saying at her press conference on Sunday it would be “damaging” to no longer have her advice.
However, by Sunday evening, Ms Sturgeon said she had come to the “firm view” that the CMO should step down, with the decision being a “mutual agreement” following a phone call between the pair.