NHS Western Isles vice-chair resigns amid controversy

The resignation of controversial quangoteer Tim Ingram from the Western Isles NHS board has been welcomed by critics of the policy of appointing non-island residents to critical public positions.
Tim Ingram resigned as vice-chair after it emerged he had little connection to the area.Tim Ingram resigned as vice-chair after it emerged he had little connection to the area.
Tim Ingram resigned as vice-chair after it emerged he had little connection to the area.

It was recently confirmed that Mr Ingram, a health and safety consultant who divides his time between Aberdeen and Newcastle, has visited the Western Isles just twice in the 18 months since he was appointed, having had no previous contact with the islands.

Mr Ingram is also a non-executive director of David MacBrayne Ltd, another appointment secured through the Scottish Government quango system. There were no island residents on the CalMac or CMAL boards throughout the ferry procurement scandal.

While Mr Ingram’s mysterious emergence as a figure of significance in island affairs was part of a wider pattern, it was his elevation to the role of vice-chairman of the Western Isles NHS Board that proved a tipping point in public tolerance.

The only two candidates considered for the position by the Western Isle NHS Board were Mr Ingram and a woman, Jocelyn McConnachie, who is believed to be a resident of West Sussex and set foot in the Western Isles only once since being appointed in April 2021.

This led Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s representative on the Health Board, Cllr Angus McCormack, to resign in protest. As a former vice-chair of the Board, he said that it had functioned well as a local organisation and that there had been a degree of accountability which could not exist for Board members who had no knowledge of island circumstances.

Mr McCormack said on Wednesday: “I think this is the right decision by Mr Ingram. It is really quite hard to understand why he thought he should hold a senior position in a Health Board covering communities of which he has absolutely no knowledge. The Health Board has to decide if it is a local organisation fighting for island interests, as it always has been, or if it is just another remotely controlled agency making decisions that affect people’s lives”.

Another former vice-chair of the Western Isles NHS board, Malcolm Smith, said: “This is a small victory for common sense. There is a really important principle at stake. How much more centralisation can the islands take? If the Health Board is controlled by people with no stake in the place, what comes next?”.

In a statement, the Western isles NHS Board NHS Western Isles said they were “disappointed to confirm that Non Executive Director and Vice Chair of Western Isles Health Board, Tim Ingram, has recently confirmed his decision to resign from the Board”.

The statement added; “Tim has been an experienced and respected member of the Board and made an extremely valuable contribution to the Board during his time as a non executive Director. Tim will leave the Board at the end of this month” as he “didn't want to become a distraction from the essential work undertaken by NHS Western Isles”

The chair of the board, Gillian McCannon, said; “We are disappointed in terms of the circumstances surrounding Tim’s resignation, and must say this type of ongoing negative publicity campaign also concerns us in terms of how it reflects on the Western Isles as an inclusive place to live and work”.

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