The chief executive of the NHS in Scotland has attempted to quash speculation that he is to leave the service soon.

Geoff Scaife told HSJ last week that discussion of his contract not being renewed in September was 'all rumour and gossip'.

'There is nothing sinister about all of this, it goes on when anyone's contract is up for renewal. The same thing happened the last time Sir Alan Langlands' contract was due to be renewed.'

Sir Alan had his contract renewed until 2003 last year, but announced his resignation - to lead Dundee University - at the end of February.

Mr Scaife was in post when the Labour administration came to power in 1997.

At the annual NHS in Scotland conference, where Mr Scaife's departure was reported as fact, an HSJ source said: 'Geoff was put in by the Conservatives and, you know, they (Labour) may want to put their own person in place.'

Chief medical officer Sir David Carter, who is due to retire in the autumn, is widely believed to have been asked to stay on for some months.

Geoff Scaife: hanging on in there Geoff Scaife is 50 and comes from Cumbria. He joined the civil service in 1968 and spent his early career in the Department of Health and the prime minister's private office. He moved into the NHS in Merseyside in 1983 and became chief executive of the NHS in Scotland in 1993.