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NHS’s public health director set to depart

NHS Shetland director of public health Sarah Taylor.

NHS SHETLAND has paid tribute to its outgoing director of public health Sarah Taylor, who is due to leave the health board after more than 15 years at the end of next month.

Health board chairman Ian Kinniburgh said she had been an “incredibly strong advocate” for initiatives designed to prevent health problems from arising during her time with NHS Shetland.

NHS Shetland is not bringing in a like-for-like replacement when Taylor leaves at the end of March. Instead it will buy in support from NHS Grampian and its interim director of public health while also beefing up the isles-based public health team.

“Sarah has been with the board now for 15 and a half years,” Kinniburgh said, “and she’s made a huge difference to the board’s focus on public health.

“We see the importance of public health and improving health in the population, preventing ill health rather than treating health problems, as being certainly something that is absolutely critical to the way we would like to go.”

Kinniburgh continued: “Every year the director of public health produces an annual report. A lot of annual reports are fairly dull, dry and boring, but the work they do each year – it’s been really thought-provoking, stimulating.

“Shetland is in a good place because of the work of Sarah and her team. We’re ahead of the rest of Scotland on things like smoking cessation, breastfeeding, a lot of the prevention work that goes on.”

Taylor also fulfils the role of director of planning, and Kinniburgh said it was thought to be very unlikely that a replacement could be found to do both roles.

There are ongoing national and regional reviews of public health in Scotland, so an interim arrangement to replace Taylor will be put in place with a view to finding a more permanent solution later in 201.

“She’s done a lot of excellent work,” he added. “She’ll certainly be missed, and we wish her well in her future work.”