Selection of a “strong voice” for Angus Council on the board of NHS Tayside has split the local authority.
Conservative administration councillor Derek Wann was appointed to the £8,000-a-year role and promised to “give a good account of Angus requirements” at a time when local campaigners feel the area is coming under increasing pressure as a result of the financial challenges facing the health body.
But the outcome of the narrow 14-13 full council vote was branded “unbelievable” by council SNP leader Lynne Devine after the opposition group complained the extensive health and social care experience of their candidate, Kirriemuir and Dean member Julie Bell, had been ignored by the council at the expense of political points-scoring.
The NHS vacancy – which must now be ratified by Scottish Ministers – arose following the resignation of previous incumbent, Arbroath independent David Fairweather.
A delay in filling the post had sparked the suggestion that Angus Council may have gone as long as 11 months without a voice on the board, but that prospect has now been avoided with Mr Wann’s selection.
Mr Wann was also appointed to the Angus Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board, joining existing council members Ms Bell and Arbroath independent Lois Speed, who will take up the post of deputy chair.
Following the NHS Tayside board appointment, Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Mr Wann said he believed he possesses the relevant experience for the post through his role as vice-convener of the authority’s children and learning committee.
“NHS Tayside is facing financial and societal challenges which is making it change at an incredible rate,” he said.
“It’s vital Angus has representation at every stage in the decision-making process.”
Ms Bell, in her pitch to the meeting for the post, spoke of a health career involvement at local, regional and national level, highlighting her work as a strategic director in NHS 24 and as part of the strategic review team which saw Stracathro Hospital retained in the early 2000s.
A former chair of Tayside Council on Alcohol, she said: “I have worked closely with civil servants in the Scottish Executive health department to implement major change such as the current GP contract, led on partnership communications for major projects such as the outline business case for Whitehills in Forfar…and was a member of a working group for the Chief Medical Officer around protocols and crisis management for healthcare acquired infection.”
SNP group leader Ms Devine said: “It is unbelievable that someone with the level of experience Julie Bell has was overlooked for this important role.
“Here we have an administration whose sole policy is to be anti-SNP. We nominated Councillor Bell because we feel that she really is ‘the best person for the job’, which council leader Bob Myles claimed to want to achieve. What a missed opportunity.”