Highland MSP “shocked” by NHS Highland Chief Executive retirement

Edward Mountain described the departure of Paul Hawkins as “deeply unhelpful”. Pic – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Highland Conservative MSP Edward Mountain has said he is “shocked and saddened” by the news that NHS Highland Chief Executive Paul Hawkins will retire later this year.

Mr Hawkins was seconded to NHS Highland on an interim basis from NHS Fife in January 2020, following the departure of previous incumbent Iain Stewart, who was in position for just over a year.

Reacting to the news Mr Mountain said stability was needed and described the departure as “deeply unhelpful”.

He said: “I am shocked and saddened that this is the third chief executive to depart NHS Highland in as many years when we need stability and long-term leadership to allow us to remobilise, recover and redesign NHS Highland post the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is deeply unhelpful and I look forward to an early meeting with the Chair of NHS Highland to discuss the future of the health board.”

Paul Hawkins was appointed NHS Highland Chief Executive in January.

Meanwhile, NHS Highland Chair Boyd Robertson commended the outgoing Chief Executive for his service and said the recruitment process was already underway.

“We are recruiting to the post of Chief Executive,” he said.

“The post is currently filled on an interim basis and we have now started to recruit to fill that post permanently. Interim Chief Executive, Paul Hawkins, is retiring later this year.

“Paul has provided excellent leadership to NHS Highland during his period of secondment with us which coincided with the Covid-19 emergency and all that it entailed.

“He has set in train a development programme and we are now looking for a chief executive to take forward that transformation agenda.”