Geoff Scaife, chief executive of the NHS in Scotland for the past seven years, is to become the new chief executive of Birmingham health authority.

Mr Scaife,51, will shadow current chief executive Mike Waterland from next month and take over in November when Mr Waterland retires. He told HSJ that he was 'extremely excited about the new job'.

'This is a return home to hands-on NHS work in England in the biggest HA in the country so it's back to grassroots, 'he said.

Mr Scaife did not want to comment on allegations that differences of opinion with Scottish health minister Susan Deacon led to a whispering campaign that saw him ousted from his position in Scotland.

'I have enjoyed it in Scotland. I have seen through a big agenda and four secretaries of state, but that was a civil service job. This is the NHS, 'he said.

Mr Scaife said his biggest challenge was to ensure that the 12 Birmingham primary care groups were 'streamlined into a smaller number of primary care trusts'.

Birmingham has been given approval for a major new acute development, and Mr Scaife said the HA would 'play its part in making that happen'.

He also said he hoped to help attract big names to two Birmingham trusts that have seen chief executives move to bigger acute trusts recently.

HA chair Alan Wenban-Smith said: 'I am pleased that Geoff has agreed to take on a job at this time of enormous challenge. I know he will continue the work Mike Waterland started to keep Birmingham at the forefront of healthcare delivery. '

Caroline Wigley, chief executive of Birmingham Women's Healthcare trust, said she had heard favourable comments about Mr Scaife at a recent conference in Scotland. 'On the basis of talking to colleagues I heard that he was extremely well thought of in Scotland. '

Mr Scaife, who is married with four children, spent his early NHS career in the prime minister's private office at 10 Downing Street under Ted Heath and Harold Wilson. His links with the West Midlands date back to 1981 when he was regional principal at the Department of Health, responsible for liaison between ministers and HAs in the region.

Before moving to Scotland he spent 10 years in the Wirral and Merseyside, where he was regional general manager from 1989 to 1993.

Operations director favourite for prize of London job NHS Executive director of operations Ron Kerr is strongly tipped to be one of seven candidates shortlisted to become chief executive of the Greater London Assembly.

Other names in the running include John Ransford, director of health and housing at the London Government Association, and Dr Wendy Thompson, inspection director of the Audit Commission.

Further candidates in the frame include Bob Chilton, GLA acting chief executive; Steve Bundred, chief executive of Camden borough council; Anthony Mayer, interim chief executive of Transport for London; and Barry Quick, chief executive of Lewisham borough council. Mr Kerr, who was regional director for North Thames until the single regional office for London was created in January last year, refused to confirm or deny the rumours to HSJ.