NHS Chairs minutes: January 2022

Minutes of the meeting of the NHS Chairs and Cabinet Secretary on 24 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish ministers

  • Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care
  • Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport

Health Board chairs

  • Lesley Bowie, NHS Ayrshire and Arran
  • Karen Hamilton , NHS Borders
  • Nick Morris, NHS Dumfries and Galloway (Chair of Chairs Group)
  • Tricia Marwick, NHS Fife
  • Allan Rennie (Vice Chair), NHS Forth Valley (on behalf of Janie McCusker)
  • John Tomlinson, NHS Grampian
  • John Brown, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Boyd Robertson, NHS Highland
  • Martin Hill, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Peter Murray, NHS Lothian (on behalf of John Connaghan)
  • Meghan McEwen, NHS Orkney
  • Gary Robinson, NHS Shetland
  • Lorna Birse-Stewart, NHS Tayside
  • Gillian McCannon, NHS Western Isles
  • Carole Wilkinson, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (Vice Chair of NHS Chairs Group)
  • Martin Cheyne, NHS 24
  • David Garbutt, NHS Education for Scotland
  • Susan Douglas-Scott, NHS Golden Jubilee
  • Keith Redpath, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Angiolina Foster, Public Health Scotland
  • Brian Moore, State Hospital
  • Tom Steele, Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Suzanne Dawson, Scottish Health Council
  • Paul Edie, Care Inspectorate

Scottish Government officials

  • Caroline Lamb, Director General HSC and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland
  • John Burns, NHS Scotland Chief Operating Officer 
  • David Miller, Chief People Officer
  • Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director Scotland
  • Richard McCallum, Director of Health Finance and Governance
  • Donna Bell, Director for Social Care & National Care Service
  • Michael Kellet, Director of Population Health 
  • Tim McDonnell, Director Primary Care
  • Heather Campbell, Interim Deputy Director of Primary Care
  • Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer
  • Hugh McAloon, Interim Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Robert Kirkwood, Head of the Office of the CE NHS Scotland

In attendance

  • Roz Barclay, NHS Scotland Executive Support
  • Nicola Gordon, NHS Scotland Executive Support
  • Kelly Savage, PS Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
  • Donne Joyce, DPS Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
  • Laurie Whyte, Corporate Business Management Team
  • Hannah Mackay, Corporate Business Management Team
  • Carol Hunter, Corporate Business Management Team


  • Janie McCusker, NHS Forth Valley (Allan Rennie, Vice Chair, attending)
  • John Connaghan, NHS Lothian (Peter Murray, Vice Chair, attending)
  • Christine McLaughlin, Director of Testing
  • Richard Foggo, Covid-19 Director
  • Jonathan Cameron, Interim Director, Digital Health and Care

Items and actions


  • welcome, apologies for absence and attendees
  • minutes and actions from the previous meeting (6 December 2021)
  • matters arising
  • update on the pandemic (Jason Leitch)
  • Chairs reflections on system pressures
  • feedback from Chairs private meeting
  • any other business:
    •  National Care Service (NCS) (Donna Bell)
  • date and time of next meeting
    • joint ministerial Session with NHS Chairs and Chief Executives on 28 March 2022
    • NHS Chairs meeting on 23 May 2022

Welcome, apologies for absence and attendees

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care welcomed everyone to the meeting. Welcomes were extended to Martin Hill, who had been recently appointed as the Chair for NHS Lanarkshire and John Tomlinson who had taken on the role of interim Chair for NHS Grampian. Peter Murray, Vice Chair at NHS Lothian was also welcomed as he joined this meeting on behalf of John Connaghan. 

NHS Chairs were made aware of changes to the Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Directorate. The directorate had now been split with Hugh McAloon as Interim Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Donna Bell now Director of Social Care and NCS Development. 

Minutes and actions from the previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 06 December 2021 were approved.

Matters arising

There were no matters arising from the previous meeting.

Cabinet Secretary remarks

The Cabinet Secretary thanked Chairs for their continued effort in leading their boards during a particularly challenging period due to added pressures from the omicron variant. The Cabinet Secretary was pleased to see workforce absence rates and performance rates had improved significantly compared to the beginning of the year however he was aware that boards still remain under pressure. 

The Cabinet Secretary advised that the NHS Scotland Event 2022 would be going ahead in person on Tuesday and Wednesday 21 and 22 June at P&J Live in Aberdeen. The title of the event would be Pandemic Recovery and Reform for the Future and would focus on 4 key themes, which included:

  • focus on whole system
  • quality, values and experience
  • improved population health
  • equity

The Events Team would issue a call for session bids through Board communications teams later in the week and it was highlighted that the ask would only be put to colleagues who had capacity to engage in this work.  Tom Steele, Scottish Ambulance Service was a member of the Oversight board who would represent Chairs.

Update on the pandemic

Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director provided an update on the state of the pandemic, which included:

  • global position
  • headline numbers in week from 09 January 2022
  • data on daily PCR and LFD cases
  • hospital and ICU data
  • hospitalisations by age
  • deaths
  • data on vaccinations by age cohort
  • Speed of vaccinations globally

In discussion it was highlighted the potential for lessons to be learned from India on administrating vaccinations at pace. It was also raised that the uptake in vaccinations for healthcare workers needed to be further explored, due to possible difficulties around recording.

The Cabinet Secretary highlighted that multiplex testing was being considered for the future. Last year the First Minister announced a commitment to Genome testing in the Programme for Government, as a legacy of what had been learned from the pandemic.

Jason highlighted that Cabinet would be meeting over the next few weeks to discuss the Strategic Framework. The Cabinet Secretary highlighted that it would be important to communicate effectively to the public as to why the NHS won’t immediately return to normal as other sectors in the country begin to restart. Chairs should assist with messaging at a local level to support this. 

Action:  Chairs to issue public messaging at a local level around NHS services, ensuring this is linked to national messaging.

Nick Morris, Chair of Chairs group introduced the item and referred to a paper that included reflections from himself, John Tomlinson, interim Chair, NHS Grampian and Keith Redpath, Chair, NHS National Services Scotland. It was agreed that the detail included in the paper would be considered further at a ‘Horizon Scanning’ meeting which would be set up in February with Chairs, Chief Executives and other health and social care partners. The discussion included: 

  • Reflections on the pressures within the health and care system from the Chairs’ strategic perspective, with regards to​​​​​​
    • health and social care capacity
    • specific workforce opportunities
    • planning, redesign and engagement with communities
  • system support - examples of the roles adopted by Chairs (and the non-executive teams) in support of the system – “leaning in” to the system.

The Cabinet Secretary agreed it was important to engage with communities around re-design of services. The importance of retaining staff was also highlighted and to support this it was agreed that the following should be considered:

  • pay, terms and conditions
  • staff wellbeing
  • progression and career development

Innovation was highlighted, in particular, opportunities around Hospital at Home and Digital innovation. Colleagues were also mindful of the further inequalities that Digital Innovation may create for rural communities.

Richard McCallum, Director of Finance and Governance highlighted that there was recognition around the importance of financial governance and the importance of working across traditional boundaries both within health and with delivery partners.

Action: Horizon Scanning Engagement Session with NHS Chairs, Chief Executives and other health and social care partners to be arranged. 

Feedback from Chairs private meeting

Nick Morris, Chair of NHS Chairs Group provided feedback from their private meeting which included updates on:

  • leadership development which David Garbutt, NHS Education for Scotland had been working on with Scottish Government colleagues
  • the Whistleblowing Programme identified as an important issue for boards to be engaged on.  The Cabinet Secretary also expressed his support for this given the importance of ensuring staff have confidence in the process.

Any other business

National Care Service

Donna Bell, Director of Social Care and NCS Development provided an update on the NCS and highlighted to Chairs that they were at the final stages of checking the consultation responses which would be published the following week. The analysis report was in final draft with the aim of publishing before February recess. Kevin Stewart, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care highlighted that an upcoming session was arranged with a number of Chairs to allow for the opportunity to pose questions. 


Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport highlighted the letter issued to NHS Chairs and Chief Executives asking boards to review and report back to Scottish Government on their arrangements for high risk breast cancer screening.

The Cabinet Secretary alerted Chairs that a deep dive on oncology with officials was being arranged. He also highlighted that the weekly system pressures meeting would be reviewed and a revised schedule of dates would be issued shortly.

The Cabinet Secretary thanked colleagues and closed the meeting.

Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting would be a joint ministerial session with NHS Chairs and Chief Executives on 28 March 2022 and the next NHS Chairs meeting would take place on 23 May 2022. The dates would be kept under review.


 NHS Chairs

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