Public appointments: Non-executive Members appointed to the Board of NHS Education for Scotland

Public appointments news release.

Summary: Public appointments news release.

Directorate: People Directorate

The Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, Michael Matheson MSP today announced the appointments of Mr Alastair Boyle MBE,  Ms Olga Clayton, Ms Shona Cowan, and Mr Nigel Henderson as a Members of the NHS Education for Scotland Board.


Alastair Boyle MBE.  Ally retired from the Fire and Rescue Service in 2014 having held many senior positions across the West of Scotland. Prior to the reform of Scottish Fire & Rescue Services he was the Head of Community Safety for Strathclyde Fire & Rescue and a member of the Corporate Management Team.

Ally has a particular expertise in partnership working, prevention and involvement and is passionate about early intervention and reducing inequalities. He has a strong conviction on the considerable benefits of whole system working and that the best solutions are developed with those delivering and receiving services.

Ally was diagnosed with a blood cancer in 2008 and, as a result of this diagnosis, he established a partnership between the Fire and Rescue Service and the charity Anthony Nolan. The partnership has volunteers across Scotland who go to secondary schools to educate young people about stem cell, blood and organ donation and recruit them to the stem cell register. Ally is also a Trustee of Blood Cancer UK and in 2018 was awarded an MBE for services to Charity.

Olga Clayton has had an extensive career as a leader in Scotland’s housing and care sectors for over thirty years. In her most recent role, as Group Director of Housing and Care at the Wheatley Group she was responsible for the provision of housing, care and support services to over 200,000 people in communities across Scotland. This included the creation of Wheatley Care in 2019 through the merger of two existing care organisations.

Olga also has significant experience of the strategic planning and commissioning of care services having worked in a number of local authorities, including as Head of Community Care and Housing at North Ayrshire Council. With a track record of delivering innovative joint services across housing, care and health she has a particular focus on how workforce development and education can enable frontline workers to work across boundaries to provide integrated approaches fit for the future.

Olga has been a Trustee of the National Autistic Society since 2021, and is Chair of its Adult Services Review Group.

Shona Cowan has spent her career in the NHS and Scottish Government in leadership roles which focussed on people services including; learning and development, organisational change and service improvement and redesign.

As an experienced senior manager she has worked in a variety of NHS organisations and has specialist skills in service management, strategy development and policy implementation along with expertise in bringing together networks of professionals from clinical, managerial and academic backgrounds.

Shona has led national improvement collaboratives on areas such as mental health in primary care and was the programme director of the first national education programme for quality improvement in NHS Scotland.

Developing the digital and data workforce along with leading digital transformation projects has been a particular focus in the last number of years both in NHS NSS and laterally Public Health Scotland.

Until March 2023 she was the Chair of The Data Lab Innovation Centre Skills Advisory Board and is also an alumni of the Scottish Public Sector Digital Champions programme.

Nigel Henderson has worked in mental health in Scotland since 1979. He is qualified as both a mental health nurse (RMN) and general nurse (RGN). Nigel joined Penumbra ( in 1991 and was Chief Executive from 1999 until retiring in 2021. Nigel brings to the Board of NHS Education Scotland significant experience of developing, leading, managing, designing and delivering innovative mental health and social care services.

In a voluntary capacity, Nigel is the current chair of IRISS (Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services) and a senior policy adviser to the board of Mental Health Europe.  Previously, Nigel has held public appointments as a board member of NHS Health Scotland (2003-2011) and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (2011-2017).


Mr Alastair Boyle MBE is appointed for three years from 1st May 2023.

Ms Olga Clayton is appointed for four years from 1st May 2023.

Ms Shona Cowan is appointed for two years from 1st September 2023.

Mr Nigel Henderson is appointed for four years from 1st May 2023.

These appointments are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner.


These appointments are part-time and attract a remuneration of £9,030 per annum for a time commitment of one day per week

Other ministerial appointments

Ms Olga Clayton, Ms Shona Cowan, and Mr Nigel Henderson do not hold any other public appointments.

Mr Alastair Boyle MBE is a member of Lanarkshire NHS Board for which he receives a remuneration of £9,030 for a time commitment of one day per week.

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.   

Mr Alistair Boyle MBE, Olga Clayton, Ms Shona Cowan, and Mr Nigel Henderson have had no political activity within the last five years. 


High quality education, training and lifelong learning are vital to providing excellent health and care services.  NHS Education for Scotland is the Education, Training and Workforce Development Organisation for the NHS and increasingly for the care sector in Scotland. It helps to provide better development opportunities for care sector staff and improved outcomes for patient care by providing educational solutions for workforce development.

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