One of Scotland's most senior health service managers is the latest to quit the NHS front line in an attempt to get a better work-life balance.

The death of his younger brother two years ago convinced Chris Spry, the chief executive of Greater Glasgow health board, that he had to make some changes to his own lifestyle.

The health warning has meant he has already changed his diet, lost weight, cut back on his working hours and started going to the gym every morning. Now he has relinquished his£100,000-plus salary - and the accompanying stress - to become a director of a London-based consultancy firm, OD Partnerships Network. He resigned last week and will leave the NHS in six months.

Mr Spry, who leaves the health board embroiled in a controversial£550m acute services review, said he was not 'fleeing' from the job but making a positive career move which would allow him to be geographically closer to his elderly mother, who lives in Cornwall. He said: 'I am not running away, but I hope these steps will mean I get a better balance between family and work issues.

'The new job will have its own pressures - I do not imagine I'll be living the life of Riley. Anything worthwhile does have its pressures. But I do not expect it to be quite so demanding and emotionally involving. '

Mr Spry, 54, took on the job in Glasgow five years ago after the post had lain vacant for three years. Formerly with the NHS Executive in South Thames, he was seen as a tough manager who would be able to take on the challenges of leading what has with some justification been described as the sickest city in Europe.

He told HSJ that he did not think it would take three years to find a new chief executive this time. But he said: 'Trying to recruit managers at the top level is not easy and I think the NHS has to be sensitive to how to attract and retain managers.

'It is not as simple as offering more money and I am not saying I have the answer. But It is something about giving top managers in the NHS a collective self-confidence and capacity to deliver change. '

He said he was looking forward to his new role, which will involve advising NHS bodies on organisation development.

'During the last 20 years I have spent over half that time carrying responsibility for the strategic development of the NHS in Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow. Sandwiched between those two jobs were seven years as an NHS general manager/ regional director in England which gave me valuable insight into the way in which a large number of NHS organisations managed the translation of policy into practice. '

Mr Spry leaves at a crucial time for health in Scotland as well as Glasgow. The Scottish Executive's proposed new unified health boards will bring trusts and boards together in a more explicit way than before and will mean management shake-ups.

In Glasgow itself, the acute services review has attracted opposition from local people and politicians. The health board wants acute care to be provided on fewer sites and wants to see Victoria Infirmary and Stobhill General Hospital replaced by ambulatory care and diagnostic centres.

There has also been controversy over plans to site a mediumsecure unit, mainly for mentally disordered offenders, at Stobhill.