The chief executive of the NHS in Scotland is quitting to take up the equivalent job in New Zealand.

Kevin Woods will continue in his current post until stepping down in early 2011.

Dr Woods has been in post since January 2005.

In a statement he said: “I have very much enjoyed my time in the Scottish Government and would like to thank colleagues throughout the organisation for all their help and support to me over the past six years.”

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “I would like to pay tribute to Kevin for driving forward improvements in the NHS through his leadership, hard work and dedication. He has made a major contribution to our vision of a healthier Scotland and I have no doubt he will bring the same drive to his new role.”