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Coronavirus / Health board alters governance arrangements to focus on response to pandemic

AN ANTICIPATED increase in Covid cases due to the Omicron variant and an accelerated booster programme has prompted NHS Shetland to introduce revised corporate governance arrangements.

This is to ensure that staff efforts are focused on ensuring resilience within the health board.

The temporary arrangements were put in place at a meeting of the NHS Shetland board on Tuesday morning.

They are similar to how the health board worked at the start of the Covid pandemic, but this time media will be able to attend virtual meetings.

It comes ahead of an announcement from first minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon in which she is expected to detail some new restrictions in light of the more transmissible Omicron variant.

National media reports this morning suggest there will be a focus on household gatherings.

Board chairman Gary Robinson said the new variant, and the government’s plan to offer a booster jab to everyone by the end of the month, will put further pressure on the health system.

“Once again a rapid response is required to ensure resilience and to allow the board to move to an agile, Covid-ready footing,” he wrote to members.

The board was asked to recognise that front line staff, support services and the management team “must be allowed to deal with the current changes required with as little distraction as possible”.

But members were told that the “board must ensure that the organisation continues to operate within an appropriate legal framework” and act in the best interests of the population.

The temporary arrangements, which will run to at least the end of February, includes the board continuing to meet virtually, and meetings taking place fortnightly instead of every month.

The board’s governance committees will be stood down and the minutes of meetings will be briefer.

Robinson described it as a “governance-lite” model.

Board member Malcolm Bell said it was an “appropriate and proportionate” move – but he hoped it would not have to be in place for too long.