NHS bosses have launched an investigation into a senior manager over claims he wore political badges to a public meeting.
Dr Drew Walker, director of public health and a member of NHS Tayside’s board, was accused of wearing SNP and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) badges at the health service’s annual review.
Labour MSP Jenny Marra claimed she also saw Dr Walker wearing a Yes Scotland band.
She asked: “Is there a code for senior public officials to be more politically impartial in their professional roles as they’re serving the whole population?”
The NHS has responded directly to Ms Marra’s concerns, telling the MSP: “We have a members’ code of conduct for board members and standards of business conduct for all NHS Tayside staff.
“We are now looking into the issue which has been raised.”
The board later said Dr Walker had been wearing a pin supporting “the campaign against gender-based violence”.
However, Dr Walker has been photographed in the past wearing a CND badge – depicting a logo that has since been adopted as a universal symbol of peace.
He does not declare membership of any political party on the health service’s register of interests.
NHS Tayside’s codes of conduct do not explicitly forbid political affiliations, but do say board members and staff should take care to do nothing which could be “construed as politically motivated”.
Ms Marra also used yesterday’s review – which celebrated improvements in NHS Tayside’s performance and finances – to call for a new hospital in Dundee.
She suggested it would be better to consider new facilities rather than fixing up the 45-year-old Ninewells building with “piecemeal” repairs. NHS bosses have approached the government for £12.1 million to overhaul “critical” electrics at the hospital “well beyond their economic life”.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman, in Dundee to hear the review, said the Scottish Government would “consider” proposals to build a replacement for Ninewells if NHS Tayside decided it was necessary.
The board is set to have £60m in government loans written off, but the health secretary has made clear she wanted results, adding: “I expect the board to plan their finances over three years in order to break even.
“I am confident they can do that if they continue with the clinically-led approach they’ve begun to adopt.”