Cathie Cowan

Chief Executive

Location: Scotland

  • GenerationQ
  • 5
  • Sciana: The Health Leaders Network
  • 3

Organisation: NHS Orkney


About me

Cathie Cowan is a Sciana member, a member of the Q Community, a GenerationQ Fellow and Chief Executive of NHS Forth Valley in Scotland. She is a trained nurse and has a master’s degree in quality improvement leadership.

She was previously Chief Executive of NHS Orkney. With a budget of £50 million and a workforce of 540 staff, Cathie was responsible for creating and implementing an inspiring vision for the organisation, instilling a performance culture that improves experience, safety and quality, as well as establishing and maintaining a stable financial position.

Cathie has a background in nursing, and was Director of Nursing, Patient Services (Quality) and Planning at Kirkcaldy Acute Hospitals Trust from 1995 to 1999. She then went on to become Director of Service Development at Fife Health Board, followed by Community Health and Care Partnerships Director at Glasgow City Council.

In her previous role, Cathie has been instrumental in transforming the way in which NHS Orkney works to become more transparent and co-productive, while at the same time strengthening governance and delivering service change and improvement.

Through GenerationQ, Cathie is looking to enhance her development as an effective leader of a change agenda, particularly as NHS Orkney is at a critical juncture: ‘We have opportunities to push out our care boundaries using technology to deliver care models in ways that truly support people at home and in their communities.

‘As Chief Executive of the smallest NHS board, I have to assume both strategic and operational roles, often at the same time and in conflict with each other. I want to be proactive and not reactive; I want to be future focused and have time to be imaginative, courageous and to think differently.’

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