NHS chief's dedication to patients will be missed

Dr Charles Swainson, one of the UK's longest-serving medical directors, retires today.

The most influential individual at NHS Lothian will retire today, ending an association with health in Edinburgh which has lasted 34 years.

Dr Swainson has been at the head of the organisation through a raft of changes, not least the moving of the Lothians' main hospital, the Royal Infirmary, from Lauriston to Little France.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He has also been credited with introducing cultural change, such as making it unac-ceptable for doctors to disguise alcohol problems, and colleagues to cover for them - a problem that was rife in decades past.

The 62-year-old, pictured above, who remains immensely popular and "down to earth" despite his expertise and seniority, says he will still "keep a hand in" with various health projects.

He also intends to devote more time to his passion away from the wards, wine-tasting.

Throughout his career, which resumed in the Capital when he moved back from New Zealand in 1986, he has continued to see patients at least once a week, despite his role at the very head of the health board.

"It is that aspect I'll miss the most," he said. "It's important to remember who the patients are, what they are experiencing, and that's why I insisted on doing that."

NHS Lothian's chief executive James Barbour said: "I would like to highlight the tremendous contribution which Charles has made over his many years working for the NHS. His wealth of skills and knowledge and his leadership will be very much missed.

"Throughout his career as medical director Charles has continued to run clinics and I'm sure he will also be greatly missed by those patients he has treated."