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Betty Meikle

Pharmacist and Scouting official.

Born: August 1, 1928; Died: December 18, 2013.

Betty Meikle, who has died aged 85, was a senior pharmaceutical officer who played an influential role in the Scottish NHS during periods of radical change and a senior figure in the Scouts. She will be remembered by the Glaswegians she nurtured as Wolf Cubs and Boy Scouts.

As the chief administrative pharmaceutical officer to Greater Glasgow Health Board, she developed an integrated hospital pharmacy service across the city and a clinical pharmacy service at ward level. This ensured the safer use of medicines given to patients and enhanced the knowledge of junior doctors in therapeutics.

Other initiatives she developed included standard guidelines for the safe handling and administration of drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, and protocols for the control and storage of medicines in wards and departments.

In the community, she was also central to establishing the free supply and exchange of syringe needles for drug addicts to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, the supply of vaccines as part of an immunisation programme for schoolchildren and a campaign for the disposal of unwanted medicines.

Along with Professor David Lawson, Miss Meikle established the GGHB area drugs and therapeutic committee and set up systems to optimise the use of resources. This was done through the evaluation of new medicines and their role in therapy and the review of the outcomes of committee decisions. The committee provided the blueprint for the now internationally-recognised Scottish Medicines Consortium, established later under the guidance of Professor Lawson.

Elizabeth Aitken Meikle was born in Lenzie and raised in Farnborough, Hampshire. She studied pharmacy at Nottingham University and trained in Kingston-upon-Thames before returning to Scotland in 1951 where she became chief pharmacist responsible for the commissioning of the then-new Vale of Leven Hospital pharmacy department in Alexandria. She returned to Greater Glasgow Health Board in 1973 as district pharmaceutical officer for South Glasgow before being promoted to chief administrative pharmaceutical officer in 1978.

During this time she also led a Cub Scout pack, then known as Wolf Cubs, in the 31st Glasgow Scout Group, dubbed Charlie Anderson's Group. Based in a socially deprived area around Finnieston, the group held a bank of uniforms and kilts which were provided to boys whose parents could not afford them. This was supplied after a cub gained his Tenderfoot badge. When they were unavailable, Miss Meikle would buy green jumpers herself and give them to boys.

In 1975, she was appointed Scottish headquarters commissioner for cub scouts and took an active role in the planning and training of cubs across Scotland. She was awarded the Silver Acorn in 1973 and in 1982 was given the Silver Wolf, scouting's highest award. She was an assistant chief commissioner of Scotland, and her wise counsel and love of the movement was appreciated greatly by those with whom she worked.

A dynamic leader who never procrastinated, she would visit ever hospital pharmacy departments in the health board area once a year, not only to inspect them but to meet and thank her staff for their work.

She was a member of several national groups and committees, including the Scottish Health Services Planning Council and the Grossart Committee on the hospital pharmaceutical service in Scotland. She served on the committee of the Glasgow and West of Scotland branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, of which she was chair for many years. She was also an office-bearer of the Guild of Hospital Pharmacists, and was on the executive of the Scottish department of the Pharmaceutical Society, pursuing the professional interests of pharmacy in Scotland. In 1987 she was awarded the Evens Gold Medal for services to the profession.

In 1984, she was appointed OBE for her services to both pharmacy and the Scout Association. After retiring, she was a committee member of the NHS Retirement Fellowship.

A woman of strong and enduring faith, she was an elder in the Church of Scotland in Drymen, where she lived from 1960 until 1993, and at St Columba's Church in Stirling, where she lived latterly. She loved exotic travel, visiting among other destinations South America, Africa, south-east Asia and Antarctica. On trips such as these, she was joined by Dorothy Kinloch, her close friend and travelling companion of almost 40 years.

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