The departure of another senior Scottish manager has been announced.

Dr Kevin Woods, director of strategy and performance management in the Scottish Executive health department, is leaving to take up a new chair in public health at Glasgow Un ivers ity.

Speculation continues that the chief executive of the NHS in Scotland, Geoff Scaife, may not have his contract renewed. Chief medical officer Sir David Carter's four-year fixed contract is due to end in the autumn.

There is speculation that Scottish health minister Susan Deacon will use the various departures to review the way in which the department works and introduce changes to its remit.

Gerry Marr, currently head of human resources at the Scottish Executive health department, is emerging as a possible front- runner to succeed Mr Scaife.

He has successfully pushed through the partnership agreements between managers and unions, is popular with a wide range of NHS staff, and appears to work well w ith the present administration.

Mr Marr was formerly chief executive of Yorkhill trust in Glasgow. He began his career in the health service as a mental health nurse.

A spokesperson for the Executive's health department said Dr Woods was leaving to take up 'the exciting opportunity of a new chair at the University of Glasgow'.He said the decision was a personal one and not based on any review of the function or personalities of the department.

Kay Ullrich, Scottish National Party health spokeswoman, said the uncertainty about who was in charge of the NHS in Scotland was leading to low morale and uncertainty about the future of the service.

'It is clear the current structure the government introduced last April is not working. We must appoint the best possible people to ensure the NHS can improve in the future, ' she said.