Royal Recognition for Forth Valley Respiratory Consultant

A former NHS Forth Valley consultant in respiratory medicine, who played a pivotal role in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, has been awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 for services to respiratory medicine in Forth Valley.

Dr Melanie Cross was the volunteering receiving Consultant for the first cases of Coronavirus in the area and quickly established a safe triaging system in Forth Valley Royal Hospital. She helped to quickly convert the respiratory ward into the first Covid-19 receiving ward, worked with colleagues to secure additional oxygen supplies and ventilation equipment and organised training and education for local staff, including how to use new PPE. She also drew up a consultant rota which provided 24/7 medical cover and helped to raise morale amongst colleagues at a very stressful and worrying time. The care delivered by the respiratory team was highly commended by local patients and their families.

As well as her efforts to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Cross, who recently left NHS Forth Valley after more than 10 years to take up a post as Respiratory Consultant for Sleep Medicine and Home Ventilation services with NHS Lothian, continued to maintain local lung cancer services, using video consultations to keep in contact with her patients to help avoid potential delays in diagnosis and treatment.

One of ten siblings – six of whom are NHS doctors – Melanie has delivered front line care in hospitals throughout Scotland and in several leading hospitals in London. She is a member of The British Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society, American Thoracic Society, British Sleep Society, Scottish Thoracic Society and Scottish Sleep Forum, and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Colleagues have praised Dr Cross’s vision, energy and drive to deliver exemplary care to the population of Forth Valley. Her leadership style is described as one of unity, wisdom, humility, integrity and compassion with a genuine interest in people and a warm, practical approach. Equipped with a strong work ethic, she has helped to drive and support those around her to “press on” and “make progress” as there is always more to be done.

Andrew Murray, Medical Director for NHS Forth Valley, said: “I am delighted that Melanie has received this prestigious award which recognises the important contribution she made to local health services in Forth Valley during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

On hearing the news that she had been awarded an OBE Dr Cross commented: “We are all craving comfort, restoration and respite from the despair, fear, tears, loss and grieving experienced as a nation over the last 18 months.

“I feel honoured and privileged to have received this award, but I see it as recognition not only for my own efforts but also for many others, including all my Forth Valley respiratory consultant colleagues, ward nurses, respiratory specialist nurses, respiratory physiologists, the lung cancer team, endoscopy staff and the secretarial staff who also deserve great credit. I truly believe that by working together nothing is impossible and they have all had played a vital role in delivering outstanding care in very challenging circumstances.”

Although Dr Cross has recently taken on a new job which has seen her return to work in Edinburgh she says her time and experiences with NHS Forth Valley is carried proudly with her and she continues to live locally in Falkirk with her family and children.