Prof Jason Leitch: Covid Inquiries Claim A Prominent Dental Victim

Prof Jason Leitch: Covid Inquiries Claim A Prominent Dental Victim

The post pandemic inquiries have claimed many scalps.  Boris Johnson the most notable.  Sadly, dentistry has not been immune.

Professor Jason Leitch, a dentist and highly talented communicator with a gift for decoding clinical speak into intelligible English, was, as Scotland’s National Clinical Director, frequently flanked the then First Minister of Scotland,  Nicola Sturgeon at her televised lunchtime briefings to Scotland’s public.

But at the UK Covid Inquiry, Leitch faced uncomfortable questions and accusations surrounding his alleged deletion of WhatsApp messages.

According to Scotland’s Daily Record, a retrieved message read "WhatsApp deletion is a pre-bed ritual."

Mr Leitch said: "It’s an exaggeration. I didn’t daily delete my WhatsApp."  He is now set to depart his post as Scotland’s National Clinical Director at the end of April and is also leaving his post at NHS Tayside following questions about his suitability to oversee a review into accusations made against neurosurgeon Sam Eljamel..

Many news publications have reported that Mr Leitch advised Scotland’s then Health Minister and now First Minister Humza Yousaf on how to circumnavigate rules that the population was being commanded to follow  

According to an account in The Spectator "In November 2021, before attending a dinner at which he was to give a speech, Yousaf messaged Leitch ’I know sitting at the table I don’t need my mask. If I’m standing talking to folk, need my mask on?’

Mr Leitch replied ’Officially yes.  But literally no-one does. Have a drink in your hand at ALL times. Then you’re exempt. So if someone comes over and you stand, lift your drink.’"

The Spectator journalist Ewan McColm wrote "It certainly suggests that, for all his bonhomie in public, Leitch was every bit as cynical as any politician" adding that the Scottish public "was in no mood to treat the matter lightly."

In its coverage, STV News said "Prof Leitch revealed he planned to spend more time working with two large international charities he is a board member of, the Nazareth Trust in Northern Israel and the Indian Rural Evangelical Fellowship in rural south-east India".

Professor Leitch has issued a statement on his moves saying it had been an "enormous privilege" to serve.

"The Covid pandemic was an unprecedented challenge for all countries and I am proud of my colleagues inside and outside the Government for their incredible work.

"It was a privilege to be able to communicate with the public so directly and be part of that co-ordinated response, and I will forever be grateful for the public’s attention and willingness to follow the guidance - it saved lives.

"I have decided to look for new challenges across health and care after a break, and to spend more time with the charities I work with. I wish colleagues well for the future.

First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf, commenting on Mr Leitch’s departure said: “Jason Leitch has made a fantastic contribution to the health of the nation, leading work to reduce hospital acquired infections and improve the quality of care in the NHS. The enduring success of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme is testament to his work.

"He played a huge role in helping me and fellow Ministers navigate the Covid pandemic by providing advice to help reach the best decisions, and by communicating so well with the public. I, of course, wish him every success in the future.”

Writing on X, ( was Twitter ), Nicola Sturgeon also wished Professor Leitch "all the very best for the future."  Sturgeon continued "I always valued the advice and support he gave me, first as Health Secretary and then FM - not least during Covid when he was a key part of the @scotgov team and a reassuring presence for many across the country. His contribution to government will be missed." 


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