TORONTO - Alan Hudson, the former chair of scandal-plagued eHealth and a key expert on wait times for the Liberal government, is leaving government.

The government said Thursday that Hudson had retired from his position as the executive lead of access to services and wait times, a key job in the province's plan to lower wait times.

"Reducing wait times is a key government priority and Dr. Hudson has been instrumental in helping us achieve our goals. I want to wish him all the best in his retirement," Health Minister David Caplan said in a statement.

Hudson, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon a recipient of the Order of Canada, had worked to reduce emergency room wait times and led a plan to report wait times online.

Two months ago, he found himself in the middle of the controversy surrounding eHealth, a government agency which he chaired until he resigned amid revelations that the provincial agency awarded lucrative contracts to consultants without competitive tenders.

Thursday's announcement comes a day after Premier Dalton McGuinty said Hudson was the driving force behind what he said was a bad decision to hire former eHealth CEO Sarah Kramer.

McGuinty admitted hiring Kramer was a mistake, but said he had wanted to retain Hudson and relied heavily his recommendation that she be hired to head the agency.

Kramer put out a statement defending her role in a spending scandal Thursday, dismissing outrage over expenditures as and saying her actions had the backing of both the eHealth board and the government.

Senior ministry of health executives will head the access to services and wait times strategy following Hudson's departure, the government said.