Tuesday, 6 May 2008



For Immediate Release
6th May 2008

SNP MSPs Alasdair Allan and Rob Gibson have today welcomed the results of the Scottish Parliament Audit Committee’s investigation into NHS Western Isles as they look toward a more positive future for the health board and regretted the Labour Executive had not acted earlier.

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, who spoke at the inquiry in Stornoway, said:

“The Committee has clearly recognised the depth of anger and frustration in the local community about the performance of the health board during the period when it was run by Mr Manson and Mr Currie.

“However, it has not exempted Edinburgh from criticism. It is clear from the report that Andy Kerr and the Labour Executive failed to grasp the problems in the islands and should have intervened far earlier to sort out the mess.

“The Committee have also been scathing of Mr Manson and Mr Currie's personal evidence to the enquiry, during which they claimed not to recall the existence of the crucial "Cook Report" into the board's finances. The committee are also unhappy that, although his salary is not being funded by the board, Mr Manson is still nominally on the payroll of NHS Western Isles.

“It is not all bad news and I welcome the commendation in the report for those bringing the board’s finances backing into balance and building a more positive future for Western Isles health board.

“I am pleased that at long last an inquiry has been held into what everyone knew had been a bad situation in the health board. When I and others called for a parliamentary committee to produce such a report before the election, our calls were met with disdain from Labour. By contrast, I hope that today's openness will go a long way towards allowing the NHS in the Western Isles to look to the future."

Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson, who repeatedly raised the problems on the Western Isles with then Health Minister Andy Kerr, said:

“This report vindicates my pursuit of the then health minister Andy Kerr. He failed time and again over a nine month period to intervene. Andy Kerr must take political responsibility for failing to intervene despite widespread and credible evidence of bullying and mismanagement.

"The audit committee has done the Western Isles a big service and the new management are doing a vastly improved job, but early intervention by the Labour minister could have avoided the delays and stemmed the loss of staff morale which resulted from the abdication of political responsibility.


Note to Editors:

· The Committee say that Mr Manson and Mr Currie's explanations were "unsatisfactory and extremely unhelpful to the inquiry" and caused the committee to find their evidence "unconvincing".

· The report finds that the health department of the previous Scottish Executive under Andy Kerr "failed to grasp the significance of the problems"

Other findings of the inquiry include serious concerns about:

· The way in which senior staff were appointed and then moved on to other posts elsewhere in the NHS.

· The board had a deficit for all but one of seven succeeding years and a 3.364 million cumulative deficit by 2006-2007.

· The initial recovery plan of 2006, which was found to have been inadequate.

· The fact that several of the board's committees did not function for a period, and that- four years worth of accounts had at one point not been approved by the board.

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