Gerry Marr, currently director of performance and planning for the NHS in Scotland, has been named as chief executive for Scotland's most financially troubled trust, Tayside University Hospitals.

The move has raised some eyebrows because Mr Marr is leaving a very senior position at the heart of government to take on a trust which, as of March, had a cumulative deficit of£16.7m.

There have been suggestions that he is no longer as close to the Scottish health minister Susan Deacon as he was and that he has been damaged by an apparent vendetta against him being waged through the pages of a Scottish tabloid newspaper.

But those close to Mr Marr believe that he genuinely wants to get back to the frontline and that he relishes the challenge in Tayside.One said: 'He is a fixer and that is what is needed in Tayside.'

Donald McNeill, secretary of the Institute of Healthcare Management in Scotland, said: 'Gerry Marr is a great guy and I think that the people in Tayside have got a real catch.

'He is an experienced manager - he was chief executive of Yorkhill [Glasgow's children's hospital] and has spent some five years at the centre of the Scottish Executive.He will be very aware of what he is taking on.'

Mr Marr, a former nurse, who is well liked in the service, said: 'Of course, I am not under any illusions as to the scale of the challenges that have been faced and are being faced in Tayside, but I believe that what has been achieved in the recent past gives us a very good platform to move ahead.'

Trust chair Peter Bates said: I am absolutely delighted that NHS Tayside has been able to attract one of Scotland's top NHS managers.'

The Scottish Parliament's audit committee was this week discussing a draft report into the causes of Tayside's financial problems which is due to be published soon. The former chief executive, Paul White, has been appointed to the top job at Barts and the London trust.