Health board appoints absentee quangoteer

The appointment of an individual who has barely visited the Western Isles as vice-chairman of the Western Isles NHS Board has been described as “very odd” by a former holder of the position.
Tim Ingram, despite having little connection to the area, has been appointed vice-chair.Tim Ingram, despite having little connection to the area, has been appointed vice-chair.
Tim Ingram, despite having little connection to the area, has been appointed vice-chair.

Tim Ingram emerged through an internal process approved by Scottish Government ministers. He claimed on his LinkedIn profile to be re-appointed until 2027, though this has not been formally announced.

Mr Ingram, a health and safety consultant who divides his time between Aberdeen and Newcastle, was appointed to the Western Isles NHS Board in March last year, joining three other non-island non-executives.

At that point, none of the non-executive directors appointed by Ministers to the Western Isles NHS Board lived in the Western Isles. Since the Gazette publicised this unprecedented state of affairs, two local residents were added.

Last November, Mr Ingram was also appointed as a non-executive director of Caledonian MacBrayne. One of the credentials quoted was his membership of the Western Isles NHS Board, though there is no other local connection.

When contacted by the Gazette at that time, Mr Ingram said he had holidayed once on an island but was unable to say which. This week, the Gazette asked the Western Isles NHS Board for a list of occasions he has visited the islands in the past 19 months.

At time of going to press, no answers were received to this or other questions about the process followed in appointing Mr Ingram as vice-chairman.

The route by which Mr Ingram entered the quango circuit via two Ministerial appointments, in spite of having no knowledge of the island communities they serve, remains mysterious.

On his LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as an “accomplished Safety and Enterprise Risk professional, Director, strategist and speaker”. Other appointments include “independent safety officer, Tyne Tunnels”.

According to the Board’s standing orders “the Chair shall nominate a candidate or candidates for vice-chair to the Cabinet Secretary. The candidate(s) must be a non-executive member of the Board”.

This narrowed the field to five – Ingram, London-based lawyer Abdul Elghedhafi, Dorset-based Jocelyn McConnachie and two island-based appointees, Professor Annetta Smith and Julia Higginbottom.

A former holder of the office, Malcolm Smith, described the appointment as “very odd” particularly since there are now locally-based members, “at least one of whom has excellent credentials”.

He said that as vice-chair, he deputised for the chair and headed sub-committees. “There were times when it was necessary to challenge and disagree on the basis of local knowledge. It’s difficult to see how someone who does not live in the place or has any local knowledge can fulfil that role”.

As recently reported, the Board must make £1.6 million cuts in the current year while the cost of temporary staff has almost doubled to £5 million since 2018. Unlike other public bodies, it continues to meet only on-line, allowing members to dial in from all over Britain without the inconvenience of setting foot in the islands.