Shetland’s health chief takes on second top role at under-fire NHS Orkney

Shetland’s health chief will be performing two senior roles during a global pandemic after taking on the top job at NHS Orkney in addition to his current duties. 

Michael Dickson, who has been NHS Shetland’s chief executive for less than a year, is set to perform the equivalent role at NHS Orkney for the “foreseeable future”.

It comes after NHS Orkney’s outgoing chief executive designate Iain Stewart had been facing calls to resign over revelations he had made several visits to the mainland for personal reasons during lockdown.

Mr Stewart has been working as chief executive designate since March, and had been expected to takeover from outgoing chief executive Gerry O’Brien at the beginning of July.

Further criticism were levelled at the Orkney health board by NHSO clinical quality adviser Roelf Dijkhuizen who resigned earlier this month, warning of major concerns regarding patient safety. 

Mr Dickson said he would be working with NHS Orkney’s leaders to “chart a way forward”.

“Our island communities – Shetland and Orkney – are facing the same challenges but we have remarkable and highly skilled people working in the NHS who will not let us down,” he said.

“We must pull together and focus on what is most important which is ensuring all of us stay safe and well during this time.”

NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson said Mr Dickson would be working both roles for the foreseeable future. 

“As chairs of the islands’ Health Boards, NHS Orkney Chair Meghan McEwen and I routinely work together to share good practice and ideas to support the delivery of high quality care to island communities.

Both Boards have provided mutual support to each other in the past. 

“The demands of delivering healthcare in the time of Covid-19 has posed challenges unique to both communities and, with this in mind, rather than bring in someone who may not fully understand island healthcare, Michael has agreed to lead both organisations through this period. 

“NHS Shetland is well on track with the recovery of its services and, with the support of our executive management team, we know Michael is well placed to lead NHS Orkney through the next stage of their renewal.  

“The Shetland community can rest assured that I would not have agreed to this change if I felt NHS Shetland would be disadvantaged by this decision. Michael’s focus will be equitable across both boards.”


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