NHS Chairs minutes: March 2020

Minutes of the meeting of the NHS Chairs on 23 March 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Ministers

  • Clare Haughey, Minister for Mental Health
  • Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing

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
  • Boyd Robertson, NHS Highland
  • Lynda Lynch, NHS Grampian
  • John Brown, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Neena Mahal, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Esther Roberton, NHS Lothian
  • Meghan McEwen, NHS Orkney
  • Gary Robinson, NHS Shetland
  • Lorna Birse-Stewart, NHS Tayside
  • Ian Burgess, NHS Western Isles
  • Susan Douglas-Scott, 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
  • Terry Currie, State Hospital
  • Tom Steele Scottish Ambulance Service
  • Suzanne Dawson, Scottish Health Council
  • Paul Edie, Care Inspectorate

Scottish Government officials

  • Malcolm Wright, Director General for Health and Social Care for the Scottish Government and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland
  • John Connaghan, Chief Performance Officer NHS Scotland and Director of Delivery and Resilience
  • Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director
  • Elinor Mitchell, Director of Community Health and Social Care
  • Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce
  • Robert Kirkwood, Head of Corporate Business Management Division
  • Laurie Whyte, Corporate Business Management Division
  • Hannah MacKay, Corporate Business Management Division


  • Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
  • Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer
  • David Miller, Chief People Officer, NHS Scotland
  • Donna Bell, Director of Mental Health
  • Richard Foggo, Director of Population Health
  • Richard McCallum, Director of Health Finance
  • Caroline Lamb, Director of Digital Reform and Service Engagement

Items and actions


  • welcome, apologies for absence and attendees
  • minutes and actions from the previous meeting
  • matters arising
  • Cabinet Secretary remarks
  • COVID-19: update from 4 UK CMOs, update on Modelling and Mobilisation Plans – John Connaghan, Chief Performance Officer, NHS Scotland, and Director of Delivery and Resilience; update on staffing – Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce; update on communications and guidance – Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director
  • feedback from Chairs private meeting including updates from the 3 regions
  • any other business
  • date and time of next meeting


Welcome, apologies for absence and attendees

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

The Minister for Mental Health advised that she was chairing the meeting on behalf of the Cabinet Secretary, who was attending a press conference on COVID-19.

She welcomed Lesley Bowie, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Janie McCusker, NHS Forth Valley, Esther Roberton, NHS Lothian and Meghan McEwen, NHS Orkney to their first meeting of the Chairs group since taking up their appointments.

The Minister for Mental Health also welcomed Gillian Russell who had taken up the role of Director of Health Workforce within the Scottish Government.

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2020 were approved.

Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

Ministerial remarks

The Minister for Mental Health thanked NHS Chairs for their strategic leadership and support provided to their executive teams in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.

Update from four UK CMOs 

Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, advised that guidance for pregnant women has changed to reflect that all women in their third trimester should now self isolate and follow the advice that has already been issued to people over the age of 70. He also confirmed that a new measure called ‘shielding’ was being introduced to protect those who are extremely vulnerable. Around 200,000 people will be contacted individually to ask them to self-isolate for three months. These individuals will also be asked to minimise contact with other members of their households.

Modelling and mobilisation plans

John Connaghan, Chief Performance Officer, NHS Scotland and Director of Delivery and Resilience provided a brief update on the current situation concerning the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID19 in Scotland. He summarised the work that has been undertaken to increase bed capacity within Intensive Care Units (ICU) and to secure the supply of ventilators to meet peak demand.

Chairs should be sighted on their Board mobilisation plans and the work that Chief Executives are undertaking to increase ICU bed capacity further over the coming weeks. Mobilisation plans should take into consideration wider issues such as space to accommodate increased capacity, logistics and training for staff. Susan Douglas Scott, Chair of the Golden Jubilee Foundation, confirmed that staff were already being trained in the GJF and that they were happy to share those plans.

Update on staffing

Gillian Russell, Director of Health Workforce informed Chairs that she had established a new strategic group, with representation from HR Directors, Unions and the BMA, which will focus on arrangements for people returning to work in the NHS, use of students (medical, nursing and AHPs) and the redeployment of staff.

She also confirmed that actions were being taken to support staff on the frontline e.g. the acceleration of testing for frontline staff and the removal of parking charges.


Jason Leitch outlined a number of different communications channels that were being used to convey the most recent guidance to public and staff. This included information to younger people, professional groupings, pharmacists, community hubs, social media as well as strategic messaging.

Malcolm Wright, Chief Executive NHS Scotland and Director General of Health and Social Care advised that there would be more direction from Scottish Ministers as a result of the NHS being placed on an ‘emergency footing’. He confirmed that, as work continues to progress at pace, he had asked all Chief Executives to cancel annual leave plans and highlighted the importance of providing visible leadership from both Medical and Nurse Directors.

Malcolm Wright then gave an overview of key activity that Chairs should be aware of and prioritise within their Boards. This included:

  • focus on improving communications and local messaging about supplies
  • identified leads for logistics in each Board to ensure that cover is provided at this interface 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, including primary and community care  
  • mobilisation plans from national Boards
  • Community Hubs and Assessment Centres
  • focus on reducing delayed discharges and ensuring that this is included in Board mobilisation plans
  • new guidance on ‘shielding people’ and humanitarian assistance
  • work with Local Authorities to deploy resources

Feedback from Chairs private meeting

David Garbutt, Chair of the NHS Board Chairs Group gave an update on discussions from their private meeting, which focussed on the response to the COVID19 pandemic.

Esther Roberton, Chair, NHS Lothian asked what the arrangements were for testing in prisons. Elinor Mitchell, Director of Community Health and Social Care agreed to follow this up and respond to Esther directly.

Date and time of next meeting

The next NHS Chairs meeting will be on Monday 18 May 2020 at 13:00. Instructions for joining remotely will be made available.

Office of the Chief Executive for NHS Scotland
March 2020

NHS Chairs minutes: March 2020



Corporate Business Management: cbmt@gov.scot

NHS Chairs


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