Covid adviser Jason Leitch employed by NHS Tayside for 11 years but hasn’t worked a single day

Professor Jason Leitch has been employed by NHS Tayside for more than 11 years but has not done a single day’s work for the health board, we can reveal.

The under-fire national clinical director has been on secondment to the Scottish Government for more than a decade under a “service-level agreement”.

NHS Tayside confirmed this arrangement began in September 2012, years after Prof Leitch first started working as a civil servant.

The health board revealed his lucrative salary is covered in full by the government, and insisted this was a “usual arrangement” for health officials.

But the timeline of the agreement raises yet further questions over whether Prof Leitch should be able to help set up investigations into disgraced surgeon Sam Eljamel.

The national clinical director was employed by NHS Tayside when the rogue doctor was suspended by the health board in 2013 for harming patients.

A bombshell report last August found health board chiefs did not supervise Eljamel properly, and revealed complaints were made years before action was taken.

Disgraced former NHS Tayside surgeon Sam Eljamel. Image: DC Thomson.

Victims of Eljamel say Prof Leitch – currently facing calls to quit over damning evidence from the Covid inquiry – should not be anywhere near investigations into the scandal.

Last week we revealed the national clinical director is helping to oversee the process of establishing a public inquiry and clinical patient reviews.

The Scottish Government later attempted to downplay his involvement, even though officials from his own department have been tasked with the work.

Prof Leitch’s employment arrangement with NHS Tayside also allows him to keep his earnings and financial interests out of the public eye.

The high-ranking health official, who became a prominent public figure during the Covid pandemic, makes no mention of being employed by the health board on his LinkedIn profile.

‘Usual arrangement’

In a statement tonight, a health board spokesperson said: “National clinical director Professor Leitch has been employed on standard NHS Consultant terms and conditions by NHS Tayside since September 1, 2012.

“He has worked for the Scottish Government under a service level agreement with NHS Tayside since that time.

“This is a usual arrangement for this type of employment secondment to the Scottish Government from health boards.

“NHS Tayside recovers the full salary cost from the Scottish Government.

Dundee Labour MSP Michael Marra. Image: DC Thomson.

Dundee Labour MSP Michael Marra said yesterday: “The patients harmed by Eljamel do not trust the leadership of NHS Tayside.

“So the idea that an employee of NHS Tayside in the form of Professor Jason Leitch will oversee what are supposed to be independent one to one case reviews is completely unacceptable.”

Lead campaigner Jules Rose said: “To hear that Mr Leitch is on the payroll of NHS Tayside, the organisation who let Eljamel harm us, I am flabbergasted and disgusted.

“On behalf of the harmed patients, we reiterate that Jason Leitch must be removed immediately.”

Concerning the investigations into Eljamel, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Professor Leitch has not been directly involved in this work.

“Scottish Government officials working in the directorate co-led by the national clinical director are progressing the necessary work to establish both the independent clinical review and public inquiry.”

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