Public Health Scotland (PHS) has appointed a new Chief Executive who will join the organisation in the Spring.

Announcing the appointment, Angiolina Foster, Chair of Public Health Scotland, said:

"It is with great pleasure that I can announce that the new Chief Executive of Public Health Scotland is Paul Johnston.

"Paul has a wealth of public sector leadership experience, and has driven forward significant initiatives across many of the building blocks of health, including housing, justice, human rights, and education. This expertise is coupled with an unwavering commitment to tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for people and communities.

"I am confident therefore that when Paul takes up the mantle from Angela Leitch in March, he will build on the achievements of the organisation’s first three years and help us ensure that we make a genuine difference for the people of Scotland."

Paul will join from Scottish Government, where he has been a Director General since June 2015. In his current role as Director General for Communities, Paul leads a portfolio that includes social security, housing, local government, human rights and public service reform. Paul is part of the Scottish Government’s Executive Team and leads cross-government work on tackling child poverty and COVID-19 recovery. He has worked in a variety of roles across government since 2000, beginning his career as a lawyer.

Speaking of his appointment, Paul Johnston, incoming Chief Executive, said:

"I am delighted to be joining Public Health Scotland at this crucial time, as we work to deliver on our vision for a Scotland where everyone thrives.

"I have seen at first hand the excellent work of Public Health Scotland through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I look forward to working with colleagues across the organisation and with partners as we take forward vital work to prevent disease, prolong healthy life and promote health and wellbeing, bringing my experience of leading work across Government on tackling inequality and delivering better outcomes for the people of Scotland."

On the news of the appointment, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

"Public Health Scotland plays a vital role in tackling Scotland’s health challenges and I’m delighted that someone with Paul’s experience in working across a wide range of portfolios across government, will be at the forefront as we emerge from the pandemic and the additional pressures it has brought.

"His work on public service reform, Covid recovery and poverty – which can be a major factor in ill-health – will be particularly important. I’m looking forward to working closely with Paul as we strive to improve health and wellbeing for everyone.

Also reflecting on the appointment, COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Councillor Paul Kelly said:

“COSLA very much welcomes the appointment of Paul at a critical time for public services. Public Health Scotland, like a lot of the public sector, has a lot of challenges ahead.

“Not only does Paul bring a wealth of public sector and leadership experience to this vital role as we emerge from the pandemic, he also brings a sound knowledge of Local Government. That is why this is a good appointment and COSLA as co-sponsors of PHS welcomes it.”​

This appointment comes following the retirement of our current Chief Executive, Angela Leitch.

Last updated: 14 December 2022