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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Second exit at isles health board
Newspaper columnist John MacLeod
Newspaper columnist John MacLeod
A second high profile figure at troubled Western Isles Health Board has announced he is to stand down.

Newspaper columnist John MacLeod said he is to quit his role as acting communications officer, just days after chairman David Currie resigned.

A private paper Mr MacLeod wrote to secure the temporary post included criticism of local politicians and was leaked last month.

He said he will not be applying for a vacancy as a full-time press officer.

The full-time position is to be advertised soon.

The isles health board has been dogged by controversies, including accusations of mismanagement and of cutting services.

Communication is a big issue for us and the new chairman's entitled to start with an entirely free hand, so I'm stepping down this weekend from working with the health board
John MacLeod

Events took a dramatic turn when Mr Currie announced his resignation on Tuesday. Health Minister Andy Kerr then installed an interim chairman.

Mr MacLeod, who revealed that he was also stepping down in a statement on Friday, was hired by the board a month ago following the departure of the previous officer Iain Maciver.

Days later a confidential paper Mr MacLeod had written to secure the appointment was made public.

As well as carrying criticism levelled at local politicians deemed to be unsupportive of the board, he said mothers-to-be expected a "pain-free" labour.

Mr MacLeod said the views were his own and not those of the board.

He later told BBC Scotland that even PR consultant Max Clifford could not improve the board's image if damaging leaks continued.

In his statement on Friday, Mr MacLeod said his role with the health board had always been on a short-term basis.

He also said he did not wish to let down the readers of his column.

Mr MacLeod added: "The board's going through a period of great change and this week's developments should bring in fresh talent and new leadership.

Western Isles Health Board website
Mr MacLeod's appointment was announced on the board's website

"Communication is a big issue for us and the new chairman's entitled to start with an entirely free hand, so I'm stepping down this weekend from working with the health board."

Mr Kerr is sending a managerial support team to the isles and said he was "fed up" with the board's failure to perform as a corporate body.

Mr Currie resigned after five years in the post.

He said he had found it increasingly difficult to balance the job with his other commitments.

Minister enters health board row
01 Aug 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Health bosses face sacking call
17 Jul 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Health PR man job letter leaked
13 Jul 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Health board post for columnist
07 Jul 06 |  Highlands and Islands

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