The doctor leading Tayside’s fight against the spread of Covid-19 has announced his retirement.
Dr Drew Walker, 65, will leave his role as director of public health at NHS Tayside after 20 years.
The position saw him placed at the forefront of plans to stem transmission and implement a testing strategy for the region.
He recently highlighted the lack of trained staff available to implement the Scottish Government’s test and protect system.
A report authored by him at the end of May said the area needs double the number of full-time contact tracers it currently has to track future infections and outbreaks.
During his time overseeing health in Tayside, he was in charge of tackling Dundee’s addiction problems, during which the city became one of the worst places per capita for fatal overdoses in Europe.
He stepped down from head of the Dundee Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP) while an independent commission gathered evidence on what went wrong.
The Dundee Drugs Commission voiced frustration when Dr Walker avoided giving evidence for months and later criticised him for his role in the crisis.
North East Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman said he hoped the change in leadership would not disrupt the pandemic response.
He said: “This is a critical juncture for NHS Tayside and all of the UK’s health services.
“It is a time for real leadership and building on expertise.
“It’s disappointing that the person in charge of Tayside’s coronavirus response has decided to leave.
“But I wish Dr Walker well and look forward to working with his successor and the board to meet the needs of constituents.”
Dr Walker is one of the highest paid bosses in the NHS in Scotland, taking home a gross salary of between £185,000 and £190,000.
It was recently revealed he is entitled to annual “distinction award” payments of nearly £32,000, first awarded to him in 2009.
News of the bonuses led Labour MSP and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Monica Lennon to call for him to make a donation to charity.
An allegation last year he had sex in his office was investigated by the health board but found to be unfounded and made “maliciously”.
Based at Dundee’s Kings Cross Hospital, he has served as director of public health for 29 years.
He previously held the same position at NHS Ayrshire and Arran for nine years.
An expert on public health, he sits on a parliamentary group that aims to improve public health and is vice-chairman of the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland.
He is also an honorary senior lecturer at Dundee University.
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “Dr Drew Walker has informed us of his intention to retire after 29 years as Director of Public Health with NHS Tayside.”
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe