NHS Chairs minutes: January 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the NHS Chairs on 18 January 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Ministers:

  • Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
  • Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Public Health and Sport 
  • Clare Haughey, Minister for Mental Health

Health Board Chairs:

  • Lesley Bowie, NHS Ayrshire and Arran
  • Karen Hamilton, NHS Borders
  • Nicholas Morris, NHS Dumfries and Galloway
  • Tricia Marwick, NHS Fife
  • Janie McCusker, NHS Forth Valley
  • Lynda Lynch, NHS Grampian
  • John Brown, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Boyd Robertson, NHS Highland
  • Neena Mahal, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Esther Robertson, NHS Lothian 
  • Meghan McEwen, NHS Orkney
  • Gary Robinson, NHS Shetland
  • Lorna Birse-Stewart, NHS Tayside 
  • Gillian McCannon, NHS Western Isles (Interim Chair) 
  • Susan Douglas-Scott, The Golden Jubilee Foundation
  • Carole Wilkinson, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Martin Cheyne, NHS 24
  • David Garbutt, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Keith Redpath, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Jim McGoldrick, Public Health Scotland
  • Tom Steele, Scottish Ambulance Service 
  • David McConnell, The State Hospital Board
  • Paul Edie, Care Inspectorate
  • Suzanne Dawson, Scottish Health Council

Scottish Government officials:

  • Caroline Lamb, Director General HSC and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland 
  • John Connaghan, Chief Operating Officer NHS Scotland
  • Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director 
  • Sean Neill, Director of Health Workforce 
  • David Miller, Chief People Officer
  • Donna Bell, Director for Mental and Social Care
  • Richard McCallum, Interim Director Health Finance, Governance and Value
  • Aidan Grisewood, Director of Primary Care
  • Christine McLaughlin, Director of Testing
  • Niamh O’Connor, DD COVID Testing and Contact Tracing Policy
  • Paul Hawkins, Director of Covid Vaccination Programme
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer
  • Dave Caesar, Deputy Chief Medical Officer
  • Michael Kellet, Interim Director of Population Health
  • Heather Campbell, Interim Deputy Director of Primary Care
  • Jack Downie, APS/Minister for Mental Health
  • Robert Kirkwood, Head of Corporate Business Management Team
  • Laurie Whyte, Corporate Business Management Team (Secretariat)
  • Hannah Mackay, Corporate Business Management Team (Secretariat)

In attendance:

  • Andrew Fleming, Head of NHS Board Sponsorship
  • Nicola Gordon, Executive Support 
  • Roz Barclay, Executive Support


  • Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce 
  • Richard Foggo, Covid-19 Director

Items and actions


  • welcome, apologies for absence and attendees
  • minutes and actions from the previous meeting (30 November 2020)
  • matters arising
  • Cabinet Secretary remarks
  • current state of the pandemic (Jason Leitch)
  • NHS resilience (John Connaghan) 
  • care homes (Diane Murray)
  • the vaccination programme (Paul Hawkins)
  •  testing (Christine McLaughlin)
  • feedback from Chairs private meeting
  • any other business
  • date and time of next meeting


Welcome, apologies for absence and attendees

The Cabinet Secretary welcomed David McConnell, Interim Chair, State Hospital to his first NHS Chairs meeting and Paul Hawkins, who has recently taken on the role of Director of Covid Vaccination Programme for Scottish Government. 

A list of those present and apologies is provided at Annex A.

Minutes and Actions from the Previous Meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2020 were approved. 

Matters arising

There were no matters arising from the previous meeting. 

Cabinet Secretary remarks

The Cabinet Secretary highlighted that the National Health Service was under extreme pressure and thanked Chairs for their ongoing work throughout this time.

Current state of the pandemic

Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director displayed slides which provided an overview of the current state of the pandemic in Scotland, which included:

  • number of confirmed COVID cases per day
  • current R-range
  • geographic variations
  • COVID cases per 100k population
  • hospital and ICU bed data and
  • number of COVID vaccinations administered per 100 people

NHS resilience

John Connaghan, Chief Operating Officer NHS Scotland, displayed slides during the meeting and provided an update on NHS Resilience. The update included:

  • data on hospital and ICU admissions
  • acute NHS capacity
  • sudents and bank staff and
  • private sector capacity

The Cabinet Secretary asked Chairs to ensure that contracts for Bank staff was being explored by Directors of HR.


  • NHS Chairs to ensure that contracts for Bank staff was being explored by Directors of HR

In discussion, capacity issues were discussed and the challenges of discharging patients to care homes and care at home while also ensuring safety. Donna Bell, Director for Mental and Social Care, welcomed a discussion offline around Care Homes. Donna highlighted that she would be meeting with IJB Chief Officers shortly and John Connaghan would be writing to NHS Chief Executives.

There was a discussion about the situation within individual Boards, specifically, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Lanarkshire, Scottish Ambulance Service, Golden Jubilee Hospital and NHS Western Isles.

Neena Mahal, Chair NHS Lanarkshire, updated that the Board was making use of mutual aid arrangements. She also updated that she had led sessions on the impact of the pandemic with the BAME community. The Cabinet Secretary requested that feedback from those sessions be shared with her.


  • Neena Mahal to share feedback from the BAME sessions with the Cabinet Secretary

Care homes

A paper had been circulated in advance and the content of the paper will form the basis of a letter to NHS Chief Executives and COs from Scottish Government in the next few days.

Donna Bell and Graham Ellis, National Clinical Advisor on Ageing and Health  provided an update on Care Homes which included:

  • leadership at a local level
  • IPC and care standards and practice in care homes
  • resilience support for struggling/failing care homes and impact on residents and wider services and
  • supporting improvement in hospital flow

Janie McCusker, Chair NHS Forth Valley advised that they have a small, designated, team that had made a vital impact on keeping the system running. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have established two similar teams. The Cabinet Secretary emphasised the importance of the impact that this resource can have and  encouraged all Boards to consider implementing this approach.

The vaccination programme

Paul Hawkins, Director of Vaccination Delivery, provided an update on the Vaccination Programme, which included:

  • workforce
  • vaccination delivery plan is on track
  • meeting Chief Executives tomorrow to discuss the mass vaccinations plans and
  • ‘scheduling’ booking platform

The Cabinet Secretary asked Chairs to ensure that Chief Executives have plans to expand their vaccinator capacity. John Brown, Chair, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde assured that the Board was exploring additional vaccination sites and that this would be progressed. The Cabinet Secretary expressed the importance that offers of help on this key programme were responded to quickly and that there should be a designated person in each Board to handle this.  


  • NHS Chairs to ensure that Chief Executives plan to expand their number of vaccinators
  • John Brown to ensure additional Vaccination sites for Greater Glasgow and Clyde area were shared with officials
  • NHS Chairs to ensure that there is a designated person in their Board to respond to offers of help relating to Vaccination sites

To ensure maximum use of resource, Caroline Lamb, Director General for Health and Social Care and Chief Executive for NHS Scotland, asked Chairs to monitor the amount of vaccinations supplied against the amount of vaccinations administered.


  • NHS Chairs to monitor the amount of vaccinations supplied against the amount of vaccinations administered


Slides on Scottish Testing Programme Update had been circulated in advance of the meeting. Christine McLaughlin, Director of NHS Planning and Testing provided an overview of the testing programme in four sections:

  • testing performance in terms of capacity, utilisation and turnaround times
  • progress against all nine areas of the Testing Expansion Plan
  • progress with contact tracing and 
  • possible next steps for further expansion of testing

It was highlighted that it was important to continue to record negative tests received. Chairs were asked to ensure they were aware of the Testing Expansion Plan for their Boards.


  • NHS Chairs to ensure they are aware of their Board Testing Expansion Plan

Feedback from Chairs private meeting

David Garbutt summarised discussions from the Chairs Private Meeting, which included:

  • CMO Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce update from Colin Sloey
  • Executive and Senior Manager sppraisals
  • Governance “Light” approach during the pandemic
  • innovation update from Tom Steele
  • resilience and vaccinations
  • Chairs development day in September and
  • early discussions on longer term planning

The Cabinet Secretary was grateful that the Chairs had commenced early discussions on the future.

Any other business

The Cabinet Secretary requested that an NHS Chairs meeting is set up for the end of February.


  • Secretariat to arrange for an NHS Chairs meeting to take place at the end of February

Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting would be the Joint Ministerial Session with NHS Chairs and Chief Executives on Monday 25 January 2021. An NHS Chairs meeting would be set up for the end of February.

Office of the Chief Executive for NHS Scotland
January 2021


Corporate Business Management Email: cbmt@gov.scot

NHS Chairs

Back to top