A FORMER Lanarkshire GP is to take on the role of the government'st most senior medical advisor during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dr Gregor Smith has been named interim chief medical officer, following the resignation of Dr Catherine Calderwood on Sunday.

Dr Smith been Scotland's deputy chief medical officer since 2015 and is taking over Dr Calderwood's duties "for the foreseeable future", according to Nicola Sturgeon.

However, the First Minister said a recruitment process would be held to decide who ultimately becomes the new chief medical officer.

READ MORE: Coronavirus cases in Glasgow surge by 53 overnight 

Dr Smith trained as a general practitioner and spent most of his career at a practice in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire.

He later became the medical director for primary care at NHS Lanarkshire, one of Scotland's largest health boards.

The Healthcare Financial Management Association, a professional body, said he is passionate about quality improvement and innovation in healthcare.

The organisation said: "(Dr Smith) is a resolute advocate of the values that define our NHS, of universal healthcare, and of widening access to medical careers to those from all backgrounds."

READ MORE: First Minister condemns former chief medical officer saying she made a big mistake 

He began advising the Scottish Government in 2012 and was part of the negotiating team for the Scottish GP contract.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, he took a stern line when Sports Direct initially said it would keep its shops open during the lockdown.

Posting on Twitter, Dr Smith said: "There are many ways of taking useful and enjoyable exercise without visiting a sports shop who appear to be ignoring scientific and clinical advice to close.
"This is not a rehearsal - this is real."

Dr Smith is also a keen runner and cyclist who believes the outdoors can improve mental and physical health.