Former NHS Board chairwoman and Shetland Central councillor Betty Fullerton was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to the NHS in Shetland.
Mrs Fullerton, who stepped down from the board in July, said she was “thrilled and delighted”, although the award had been completely unexpected.
“It was a real surprise to be singled out in this way. I don’t know who nominated me, these things are kept confidential.”
The first she heard about it, she said, was on New Year’s Eve when a letter arrived from Buckingham Palace asking her if she would accept the honour. The shock turned to delight as she readily agreed.
Her eight years as chairwoman of the local health board were not always easy, Mrs Fullerton said.
“We had a lot of fairly difficult decisions to make. The board had to live within its means and continue to provide a high-quality service. I led the service but it [the OBE] is a great tribute to the staff and board members.”
She also acknowledged the input of lay members of NHS 100 to health board policy.
As chairwoman, a role to which she was appointed to by then Scottish government health minister Susan Deacon, Mrs Fullerton had to liase with government health officials to provide services to those diagnosed and to improve and protect the health of the Shetland public in general. Those services had to meet national standards and stay within budget.
Mrs Fullerton mentioned notable successes during her tenure as chairwoman as providing more consultant services at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, the implementation of the smoking ban, which was put in place at hospital premises ahead of the national ban, the CT scanner and the fact that people now seem more responsible for their own health.
Disappointments were not being able to provide a new hospital, although she praised improvements at the Gilbert Bain, and there was an ongoing problem with recruiting dentists.
Mrs Fullerton said she would now be concentrating on council work, making sure the co-operation between health board and council, as in the creation of new care places at Montfield, continues.