HEALTH Secretary Alex Neil is embroiled in a cronyism row after a senior member of his SNP constituency branch landed a health quango job worth £32,000.

Railway manager Philip Campbell was appointed to the board of NHS Lanarkshire last month.

He is the secretary of the SNP's Airdrie and Shotts branch, the seat Mr Neil won in 2011.

Last year Mr Campbell acted as the election agent for Airdrie SNP councillor Michael Coyle, who had been Mr Neil's agent in 2011.

The appointment of Mr Campbell, which was the last of eight health quango appointments listed in a Scottish Government press release on May 28, went largely unnoticed at the time.

Labour last night said it was unwise of Mr Neil to sign off on the appointment of such a close political ally, and questioned whether Mr Campbell would be "compliant" rather than an objective member of the board.

Mr Campbell's appointment is for four years, and will earn him £8008 a year for a commitment of eight hours a week, a total of £32,000.

The SNP Government has been accused of spinning Mr Campbell's CV, with the official press release saying he would bring the board "a combination of 22 years customer service, financial, audit and inspection skills".

However, as Mr Campbell is 38, those 22 years amount to everything he has done since leaving school, some of it inevitably low-level.

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said of the appointment: "It gives the impression he is more concerned with people who are compliant rather than those who are best placed to run local health services."

An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said: "We are delighted that we have two new non-executive directors who bring with them a wealth of experience, skills and knowledge."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Following an open, fair and merit-based approach in line with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies in Scotland, the appointments panel proposed the appointment of Philip Campbell as one of the strongest performing candidates."

Mr Campbell could not be contacted for comment.