Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 14:42 UK

NHS board merger 'not on agenda'

Western Isles Hospital
NHS Western Isles has had to deal with problems in recent years

Proposals to twin an islands health authority with one on the mainland will not be a takeover, a NHS chief said.

NHS Highland chairman Gary Coutts said closer working with the Western Isles would allow them to share expertise in finance and human resources.

The Scottish Government was expected to confirm the twinning in a future announcement.

NHS Western Isles has been dogged by significant financial problems and staff unrest in recent years.

In red

Mr Coutts said the move was nothing more than building a closer relationship between the two authorities and denied it would lead to a merger.

He said: "Not even is it not on the agenda, it's specifically off the agenda. The minister has made that clear."

NHS Highland was expanded to provide services within the boundaries of the Argyll and Bute Council area following the dissolution of Argyll and Clyde Health Board in 2006.

The board, which served 420,000 people, was 80m in the red.

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