Getting to know Morag Alexander
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Getting to know... Morag Alexander

Morag websiteIn this series we¹re talking to our Council members, finding out about their backgrounds and how they became involved with the GOC.

Our first interview is with Morag Alexander OBE, lay member of Council.

Morag has spent much of her working life and public life committed to equality. She was formerly a Board Member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the first Chair of its statutory Scotland Committee. Before that, she was the first Scotland Director of the Equal Opportunities Commission and also spent a number of years as a consultant on gender equality to the European Commission.

Since 1970 when the Equal Pay Act was passed, Morag has been variously a writer, researcher and campaigner for gender equality. She says she was particularly privileged in 1998 to have been a member of Partnership for a Parliament, the cross-party civic organisation that worked to establish the Scottish Parliament. She was also a member of the expert panel on procedures and standing orders for the Scottish Parliament and drafted the blueprint for the Parliament¹s structures and policies on across-the-board equalities.

In 2001, she was awarded an OBE for her contribution to equal opportunities. She is married to a (now emeritus) professor and they have two children and three grandchildren.

Morag was appointed as a lay member of the GOC Council initially in 2007 and continued as a lay member after reappointment to the restructured council in 2009. Her experience of professional regulation began in 2001, when she was appointed as the first Convener (Chair) of the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), the regulator in Scotland for the social work and social care professions.

“The SSSC, together with the Care Councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, were the first regulators to be set up after the Shipman scandal had exposed the failings in the structure and governance of the GMC. So they benefited from the lessons learned. The Scottish Parliament established the SSSC with a small board-like Council with a balance of professional and lay members and a lay Convener.

“The 12-member Council was much more efficient as a decision-making body than the older-style larger, more cumbersome councils – and very much more effective in the challenge and scrutiny functions that are absolutely vital if a regulator is to be successful,” she says.

“Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented and generous colleagues,” she says. “It was a privilege to work with the other Council members and expert professional staff on the SSSC and in those early days I learned a great deal about effective, appropriate and proportionate professional regulation.

“So when the second term of my appointment came to an end in 2007, I applied for and was delighted to be appointed as a lay member of the GOC. This was at a time when professional regulation in the health sector was catching up with good practice developments, and I was encouraged to find that the GOC was among the leaders.”

Speaking of recent developments at the GOC, Morag says she is greatly enjoying working with her colleagues on the Council and with the new Chair and Chief Executive. She is also delighted to be able to make a contribution to the GOC¹s work in Scotland by attending Optometry Scotland meetings for the Council and by her membership of the innovative Optometry Advisory Committee of NHS Education Scotland.

Morag is also a Trustee and board member of ELCAP, a Scottish charity which supports individuals with learning disabilities to live full and independent lives in the community.

You can read more about Morag Alexander¹s professional background here.


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