Mr Sandy Watson, chairman of the Board of NHS Tayside, and a man who featured in the pages of the Montrose Review in many capacities, has announced that he will retire at the end of May after 48 years’ public service.
The announcement brings to a close Mr Watson’s three public sector careers and a lifetime of service to communities across Scotland.
He started as an educator, teaching in Morrison’s Academy and ending that chapter as Director of Education for Tayside Regional Council. He then became Council Chief Executive both for Tayside Regional Council and Angus Council and he is now bringing down the curtain on his third career as a non-executive member and chairman of the Board of NHS Tayside.
He has been President and General Secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Secretary of the Scottish Branch of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Chair of the NHS Scotland Chairs’ Group.
Mr Watson, who was appointed an OBE in 2003 and Depute Lieutenant for Angus in 2007, said he had been convinced to apply for the Chairmanship of the Board by Nicola Sturgeon, then the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. Her vision was to have an NHS where the Scottish people and the staff of NHS are partners and have a real voice in how services and care are shaped and delivered.
“I have been privileged to work with talented Board members who are committed to that direction of travel and I believe that significant steps have been taken in respect of both community engagement and staff engagement in shaping policy,” he said.
“I salute the hard work that staff undertake day in, day out and the way in which they have risen to the challenges of transforming services to make them better for patients, their families and carers.”
Mr Watson also paid tribute to the close working relationship between NHS Tayside and the University of Dundee and its College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing.
He regards the integration of health and social care as one of the most significant challenges. “It is not just another initiative,” he said. “It is a fundamental change in how we do business with our partners – a fundamental change of culture. I wish all of the new Integration Boards in Tayside well.”
Lesley McLay, Chief Executive of NHS Tayside said: “Always resolute in his belief that NHS Tayside is one of the best health systems in the country, he has helped this organisation achieve its goals with his exceptional leadership. Sandy always puts staff and patients first. You will more likely find him out and about meeting staff and learning about the day-to-day running of departments and meeting patients, than sitting behind his desk reviewing Board papers.
“On behalf of the Board of NHS Tayside, I wish him and his wife and family all best wishes in his retirement; he will be truly missed.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Sandy Watson has provided almost 50 years of highly professional public service, including almost a decade of dedicated service to the NHS and for that I am extremely grateful.
“During his time as non-executive member and chairman of the Board of NHS Tayside, Sandy has worked closely with executives and non-executives alike to ensure Tayside has developed and maintained a strong emphasis on patient safety and performance management.”
Mr Watson will retire on May 31 and plans to spend more time with his wife Jean and family at home and abroad.