Ernest Macalpine Armstrong

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Ernest Macalpine "Mac" Armstrong CB FRCGP (born 3 June 1945) is a former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.

Early life[edit]

Armstrong was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was educated at the former Hamilton Academy. He then studied at the University of Glasgow obtaining a First Class Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology in 1968, before then graduating in 1970 with a medical degree with Honours.


Armstrong became a Lecturer in Pathology from 1971–74 at the University of Glasgow. In 1974 he began training as a general practitioner (GP), then in 1975 took up a position as a principal GP in a practice in Connel, Argyllshire.

In 1989, he was elected to the post of chairman of the Scottish GP Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA). He then became chair of the BMA's Scottish Council and then deputy chair of the BMA's General Medical Services Committee (GMSC). In 1993 he was appointed Secretary to the BMA.[1] In this role he made efforts to develop relations between the healthcare professions.[2]

In 2001, Armstrong was appointed Chief Medical Officer for Scotland succeeding Sir David Carter.[3] During his time as CMO he had to deal with a decline in the uptake of the MMR vaccine[4] and the subsequent appearance of cases of measles.[5] He also needed to grapple with the impact of lifestyle choices that was affecting Scotland’s population.[6][7] He spoke in favour of a complete ban on smoking in public places and urged the Scottish Executive to take the lead and introduce legislation to this effect.[8] He served as CMO until 2005.[9][10]

He is chair of Alcohol Focus Scotland.[11]

In April 2016 Armstrong publicly cancelled his membership of the BMA. Armstrong cited his disapproval of the strike action taken by junior doctors in England in response to a disputed new contract of employment being imposed.[12][13]

Armstrong is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh;[14] Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health.[10]


Armstrong was invested as Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 2005.[15][10][16]

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Aberdeen in 2008.[17]


  1. ^ MacDermid, Alan (6 May 1993). "Highland doctor to take over as secretary of BMA". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  2. ^ Hunt, Liz (24 June 1996). "The case for nurses who wield knife". The Independent. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  3. ^ "New chief medical officer appointed". BBC News. BBC. 8 September 2000.
  4. ^ "Plea to Scots parents over MMR". BBC News. BBC. 30 November 2001.
  5. ^ "Measles returns to Scotland". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 13 March 2002. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Women's 'equality' is health issue". BBC News. BBC. 26 September 2001.
  7. ^ "Fears for 'generation of couch potatoes'". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 1 August 2002. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Top doctor calls for smoking ban". BBC News. BBC. 7 April 2004.
  9. ^ "Brain Science Event 2004 – Speakers' biographies" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh and The Royal Netherlands Academy. 2004. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Frost’s Scottish Who’s Who – Ernest Armstrong Archived 27 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 27 October 2010
  11. ^ "About AFS: People". Alcohol Focus Scotland. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  12. ^ Kmietowicz, Zosia (11 April 2016). "Former Scottish chief medical officer resigns from BMA over junior doctors' action". The BMJ. 353: i2092. doi:10.1136/bmj.i2092. PMID 27066984.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Holme, Chris (5 June 1997). "Doctors 'want to see action soon'". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Feast of honours for great and good of Lothian". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. 11 June 2005. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  16. ^ The Independent, Birthday Honours List 11 June 2005 Retrieved 27 October 2010
  17. ^ "World's greatest chef' among Aberdeen's honorary graduates" (Press release). University of Aberdeen. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2015.