Public appointment: Members appointed to Grampian NHS Board

Public appointments news release.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Neil Gray MSP today announced the appointment of Colette Backwell and Ritchie Johnson as Members of the Grampian NHS Board.


Dr Colette Backwell

Colette Backwell started her career as a research scientist, moving into the development of science policy and evidence-based policy making as a senior civil servant in the UK and Scottish Governments. Moving into the private sector, she was the Scotland Director of the Food and Drink Federation, before moving into the charitable business sector as Chief Executive of Clan Cancer Support, the largest, independent cancer charity in the north-east of Scotland. As CEO for seven years, she provided strategic direction and leadership to all aspects of the business, including during the Covid-19 pandemic, acquiring a detailed knowledge of charity governance and health and social care in Scotland. She was the third sector representative on the NHS North Cancer Alliance; a member of the NHS Grampian Cancer Strategy Group; and Chair of the NHS Grampian Cancer Partnership Group for six years, during which time she led the development of the Cancer Support North Scotland website in partnership with other cancer charities in the region. Since 2023 she has been a strategic advisor to the NHS Grampian Charity.

Colette served as a Trustee of the University of Aberdeen from 2019-2023, latterly serving as Senior Independent Member, and President of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce from 2019-2021. In these roles she gained extensive experience as Chair of the Board and membership of committees such as Governance and Nominations; Remuneration; and Finance and Audit.

Ritchie Johnson

Ritchie Johnson has over 30 years’ experience working for Aberdeenshire Council in a variety of roles, most recently for eight years as Director of Business Services and six years as Director of Housing and Social Work Services. He retired from the Council in April 2023.

Ritchie has significant experience of successfully managing large scale complex services and budgets which will be invaluable in him making a positive contribution to the work of NHS Grampian as a Board Member. He also brings knowledge and expertise in setting strategic direction, good governance and effective assurance. Ritchie regards partnership working as a key part of delivering public services and he can point to a leading involvement in local partnerships which will inform the efforts of NHS Grampian in this important area. Ritchie has a personal commitment to supporting the work of NHS Grampian and the Integrated Joint Boards having been involved in the establishment of the Aberdeenshire Board at the outset.


These appointments will be for 4 years and will run from 10 June 2024 to 9 June 2028.

These appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


These appointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £9,030 for a time commitment of 52 days per annum. Additional remuneration for Integrated Joint Board commitments is paid at a daily rate of £173.66.

Other ministerial appointments

Dr Colette Backwell and Richie Johnson do not hold any other public appointments.

Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity within the last five years (if there is any to be declared) to be made public.   

Dr Colette Backwell and Ritchie Johnson have had no political activity within the last five years.


Through hospital and local based services, NHS Grampian is responsible for meeting the health needs of the half-million population spread over 3,000 square miles of city, town, village and rural communities.  Since April 2016 NHS Grampian’s fully integrated Health and Social Care Partnerships became fully operational across their three Local Authority areas of Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray and NHS Grampian works closely with the three Integration Joint Boards covering these areas. NHS Grampian is also very closely linked with both the University of Aberdeen and The Robert Gordon University, especially in the fields of research, workforce planning and training.

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