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IJB chairman steps away from board after ‘personality clashes’

NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh and IJB chairman Cecil Smith

THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland’s Integration Joint Board (IJB) says he does not want to be involved in the board if re-elected as a councillor because he has had enough of “personality clashes” between its members.

Cecil Smith, who is hoping to secure a third term as councillor for the Lerwick South ward, said in an email exchange with members of the Shetland Partnership Board that he wanted no further part to play in the IJB.

NHS Shetland chairman Ian Kinniburgh responded by email to distance himself from Smith’s “inaccurate comments about officers”.

It is understood that a ‘culture clash’ between health board and council members has contributed to tensions on the IJB board.

When asked on Thursday if he wanted to elaborate on his comments, Smith said he was not prepared to say any more at this stage.

Smith has chaired the IJB since it was formed in 2015 as part of a wider Scottish Government drive to integrate council-run social services departments and health care provided by the NHS.

In addition to NHS staff and heath and social care representatives, the IJB features three councillors; Cecil Smith, Billy Fox and Allan Wishart.

Wishart, however, was only drafted in after North Isles member Gary Cleaver resigned in January citing frustrations over NHS Shetland’s work on the board.

In an email addressed to an SIC development worker but sent to dozens of people on the mailing list of the Shetland Partnership, Smith said he didn’t feel there should be an IJB representative on the partnership’s board at this moment in time.

With the local council elections taking place on 4 May, the last meeting of the IJB was held in March.

He added: “If re elected I will not be taking any part in the IJB. I know I have a lot to offer and could move things forward but unfortunately the personality clashes between officers have made it extremely difficult for me as chair and so I just want clear of it all.”

This prompted Kinniburgh to reply: “I would not normally respond to all but feel that I must express my disappointment at your damaging and intemperate remarks shared once again with a wide audience.

“I feel I must question your judgement around this and I totally distance myself from your inaccurate comments about officers and also around the contribution the IJB can and should make to partnership working.”

Smith confirmed he had spoken to Kinniburgh privately about the matter, before saying he made “no apologies for airing my views” on a public level.

The next IJB board looks set to have a very different make-up, with both Fox and Wishart set to depart after deciding not to stand for re-election to the council.

The next chairperson will be selected by NHS Shetland as the process alternates between the health board and the council.