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The chief executive of a Scottish health promotions department has resigned, claiming that there has been a smear campaign against her.

Louie MacAllan resigned from her post as managing director of Health Promotions Grampian, following criticism of the department's expanding budget and expenditure.

Ms MacAllan said her departure was not as a result of criticism, but 'because of career development'. She has been offered a senior managerial post with Redbridge and Waltham Forest health authority.

She won the Burdett award in last year's HSJ health management awards for her work building up what judges described as 'an innovative and dynamic enterprise'.

But Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles recently raised concerns about a 28 per cent increase in HPG's budget over the past four years, while expenditure rose by 80 per cent in the same period.

Concerns have also been expressed about a possible conflict of interest because Ms MacAllan is married to Grampian health board's general manager, Frank Hartnett. Ms MacAllan denied 'completely' that there was anything unusual about the budget increases.

'We sell our services to outside groups and have generated almost a third of our£3.42m expenditure. Comparisons with other health boards are, therefore, difficult to make as we spend more but we also generate more income,' she said.

Last year the health board, which covers a population of 528,000, provided the unit with£2.2m, while a further£936,000 came from generated income.

Lothian health board, which covers a 753,000 population, saw its health promotions budget rise from£1.2m in 1996-97 to£1.6m for 1999-2000.

A Grampian health board spokesperson said its funding of the department was 'transparent'.