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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
New isles health boss sparks row
Western Isles Hospital
The board is responsible for Western Isles Hospital
A row has erupted over the man appointed by Health Minister Andy Kerr as the new chairman of Western Isles Health Board.

Ronnie Cleland was seconded to the authority following the resignation of David Currie last week.

The SNP has now challenged Mr Cleland's appointment because a recruitment practice he heads helped to bring two directors to the isles board.

The Scottish Executive said there was no question of a conflict of interests.

Mr Cleland's appointment was among a number of changes Mr Kerr has brought to the board.

He is also sending a managerial support team because he believes the organisation has failed to perform as a corporate body.

Advertised posts

Mr Cleland, who will lead the team for the next six months, is a non-executive board member of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

However, it was in his role as chairman of recruitment firm Odgers Ray and Berndtson's Scottish practice - formerly Thomsons Partners - that concerned the SNP.

The company helped in the recruiting of finance director Marion Fordham and learning director Kay Young.

It also helped over the appointments of two senior officials - hospitals manager Cathy Carnell and community services general manager Michael Cook.

Angus MacNeil, Nationalist MP for the Western Isles, has written to the health minister asking if there was any conflict of interest.

The Scottish Executive said Mr Cleland had no role in selecting and appointing the staff in question.

Odgers Ray and Berndtson's website
The recruitment firm describes itself as one of the top in the UK

A spokesman said: "The role of Thomson Partners was to advertise the posts on the board's behalf and on the basis of their applications to identify from among the applicants those most suitable for interview.

"The board then undertook a normal NHS competitive appointments process in which Thomson Partners were not involved."

Western Isles Health Board has been dogged by controversies, including accusations of mismanagement and of cutting services.

It faced a vote of "no confidence" by staff back in March.

The executive had previously refrained from stepping into the row and said any dispute was for the chairman and board members to resolve.

However, Mr Kerr said Mr Currie's resignation had opened the way for him to make changes.

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