Published: 16/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5936 Page 7

Health professionals and managers in Scotland have urged the new head of the NHS to provide stability rather than institute further reforms.

Kevin Woods takes up post next month as head of the Scottish Executive Health Department and chief executive of NHS Scotland.

He returns to the Scottish health department after holding two posts in England in the space of less than a year.

Mr Woods has been chief executive of North London strategic health authority since October.

Before that he spent eight months at Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire SHA as director of policy and strategy.

Following the death in April of chief executive Geoff Scaife (a former chief executive of NHS Scotland) Mr Woods held the post of acting chief executive until the permanent appointment of Trevor Jones (who was Mr Scaife's predecessor as NHS Scotland chief executive).

Mr Woods was director of strategy and performance management in the health department within the Scottish Office and, post-devolution, the Scottish Executive, from 1995 to 2000.

He then moved into academia as the first William R Lindsay professor of health policy and economic evaluation at Glasgow University until 2003, before joining Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Scottish NHS Confederation director Hilary Robertson, welcomed the appointment but said: 'We are really looking for a period of stability and hope Mr Woods will understand that because he has a good knowledge of the health service in Scotland.' Institute of Healthcare Management Scottish secretary Donald McNeill was more blunt: 'The last thing we need is more upheaval. The service needs support to implement the reforms which are already under way.' British Medical Association Scottish Secretary Dr Bill O'Neil, said: 'We hope that his appointment does not herald a radical change in policy direction.' He said Mr Woods' experience of the healthcare system in England meant that 'he will recognise that English solutions may not necessarily be best for Scotland'.