Health / Dickson to leave NHS chief executive role to lead ambulance service

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

NHS Shetland will be looking for a new chief executive after Michael Dickson confirmed he will be leaving for a new role.

Dickson will become the next chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, although a start date has not yet been given.

He said it has been a “privilege” to lead NHS Shetland for the last three years.

NHS Shetland board chair Gary Robinson said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Michael for his service, hard work and dedication.

“We will be sorry to see him go but we wish him every success in his new role.”

As he started in the NHS Shetland role in January 2020, Dickson’s tenure will be remembered for guiding the health board through the Covid pandemic.

He introduced regular live broadcasts on social media to keep the community updated through the pandemic.

Dickson also took on the NHS Orkney chief executive role on an interim basis while the health board there looked for a successor.


At the tail end of 2022 it was also revealed that Dickson was to be given an OBE for his services to health care during the Covid pandemic.

He previously told Shetland News that the OBE award “absolutely isn’t about me – it is about how NHS Shetland responded and how the community responded to what was an unknown risk to us all”.

Reflecting on his time as chief executive of the country’s most northerly health board, Dickson said: “When I joined NHS Shetland, I didn’t think for one moment it would have been the three years it has.

“I had just got my feet under the table, and experienced my first Up Helly Aa, when this new thing called Covid-19 arrived.

“Collectively, the whole of Shetland pulled together with an enormous community effort and things went on from there.”

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He said he has been “enormous acts of kindness”, from the MRI Maakers raising money for an MRI scanner to the community providing gowns when the health board was short on PPE.

“It is important to recognise the level of innovation and teams’ dedication to the communities,” Dickson added.

“The IT team moving heaven and earth to support people to be able to work from home almost overnight, staff travelling in tractors through drifts of snow to ensure patients got their medication and the delivery of the Vanguard mobile theatre programme to allow people waiting to get much-needed procedures carried out locally.

“There have been challenges and we all made sacrifices, missing celebrations, gatherings and loved ones because we knew, although it was hard, it was the right thing to do, and we were all truly in it together.

“Throughout all of this, there are two things that have resonated with me more than any other, kindness and community.


“To visit Shetland is lovely, to work in Shetland a privilege, and to live in Shetland is truly special. There are few places that I can think of where the sense of community is as strong and people’s kindness boundless, it is a special place and one I will miss with all of my heart.

“However, I am fortunate that because the Scottish Ambulance Service is a national service, I will retain a strong connection with Shetland, and I am thankful to continue to have the opportunity to remain connected to a place that will stay with me forever.

“Finally, I want to say thank you to the staff and community for your support while I’ve lived and worked here, it has been a privilege to head up such a brilliant team at NHS Shetland.”

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