The meeting in Wick High School was packed out on Monday night as the people in East Caithness reacted to the perceived threat to maternity services. The representatives were grilled and in typical Wick fashion the audience demanded improvements not downgrading to services.
Highland Health Board have denied that any of the local staff have been warned not to talk about the review to members of the public. Robert MacLennan took up the matter with the Health board following reports he had received.
The winter weather has forcefully convinced Caithness people that what they have said all along is true. That an area as far away from the main centres must have its own dedicated services especially in vital areas of health like maternity where emergencies do and will happen when the weather cuts the county off.
Mr Stone called on all constituents, as many as possible to in Caithness & Sutherland to write and make their views known. The Caithness Courier article today set out Mr Stone's view on the matter and made it clear that now was the time for people to put pen to paper.
Graeme Smith, a member of the Wick Community Council and Highland Councillor is encouraging people to think more about how a concerted campaign might affect the outcome of the Review into Maternity services in the county. He encouraged people to think in terms of a campaign involving community councils and the Association of community councils acting in concert with MUMS (Maternity Unit Must Stay).
Well if things were looking quieter on the public outcry front about possible downgrading then the latest drama in Caithness certainly underlines the need for people to be concerned. Fortunately for all concerned the skills in the maternity unit were able to deal with the problems.
The Maternity Review is certainly going to stack up the reports with the Caithness Economic Partnership going to carry out an economic assessment of the impact of changes to the service if any are brought in. This seems sensible but can it be taken in isolation.
As reported in the JOG this week a review is to be started in January. A reference group and very wide consultation is to be carried out.
Castletown and District Community Council have now discussed the review with its implications for downgrading services in the maternity unit. The references they made concerning the abolition of the Caithness NHS Trust show that Caithness people feel they were right to be concerned about the abolition.
Last nights meeting of MUMS (the campaign to ensure maternity services in Caithness were not reduced) held one of its now regular meetings. The meeting brought together members of other organisations to decide upon future strategies to combat what is seen as the threat to services in the county.
Monica Mouat has stood down from her position as chair of the review group looking at maternity services. A new chair will be appointed.
This week saw Deirdre Steven talking to her fellow labour party member Health Minister Susan Deacon. Following a meeting in Inverness Mrs Steven put the local view to the minister.
No one in Caithness can be unaware of the mounting pressure being built up by the MUMS campaign in Caithness. Local opinion is being gauged by petition in every part of the county now.
No assurances from the Health Board at the Wick Community Council meeting this week does not give any comfort to people who are worried about the future of maternity services in the county. The delay in commencing the review - it has been put back to January 2001 looks to councillors like a way of trying to allow the very public campaign to die out according to Graham Smith - Wick Councillor.
There has been huge publicity on the maternity services in Caithness since the news leaked about the review and then the financial problems of the Trust. Given the assurances given at reorganisation under the "Designed to Care" proposals less than two years ago people in Caithness would appear to have been right to worry about the changes that many did not want.
The public anxiety surrounding the effects of the review of maternity services in Highland have given us the impetus to make information on the issue easily available. If anyone would like to forward information for inclusion in this section please get in touch with us at 01955 604648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Health Minister Susan Deacon today welcomed the publication of the final report of the National Review of Resource Allocation for the NHS in Scotland and its proposals for a fairer formula for the distribution of health spending. The final report of the independent expert committee, chaired by Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, is the product of work lasting two and a half years.