A doctor in Orkney that stepped up to the forefront during Covid has admitted she is “completely stunned” to be included on the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Kirsteen Cole has been made an MBE for her services to the community and general practice in Orkney throughout the pandemic.
The 40-year-old has been a partner at Skerrybore Practice for the last 10 years, and despite working full-time sits on a number of sub-committees and boards.
She said the news was “absolutely out of the blue” and that it took some time to sink in.
“I think I read that letter quite a number of times before I properly absorbed what was in it,” Dr Cole said.
“It was a huge shock and I was completely stunned – it did take quite some time to sink in because it is just so far beyond any reality that you imagine.
“It’s not the sort of thing you think one day this may happen, it was just absolutely out of the blue.”
Dr Cole studied at Aberdeen University before carrying out her junior doctor training across Aberdeen, Elgin, Inverness and Orkney.
She completed her GP training in Orkney and has been working there since.
Team ‘pulled together’ during Covid
As well as chairing the various sub-committees, Dr Cole is the GP clinical advisor on the Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board for Orkney.
During Covid, she was appointed as the GP advisor on the Silver Command board. In this role, she would give advice and fearlessly interrogate the science to gain clarity.
She also represented the needs of her primary and secondary care colleagues, while continuing to help patients in the practice every day.
She said: “Everyone across the health service has had to work in ways that we haven’t worked before and learn how to do things differently.
“One of the bonuses of where I work is that we’ve managed to pull together a really adaptable team and we’ve managed to make changes – sometimes overnight.
“There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make sure we were following the right infection control guidelines and continuing to deliver as much as we possibly could for patients that were still phoning every day and needing good care.”
She plans to travel back with her sister to their parent’s home in the Black Isle to celebrate at the weekend.