CHAT calls for radical infrastructure improvements in wake of major report into Caithness maternity services
18th November 2016
The long-awaited report of Public Health Scotland (PHS) into maternity services at Caithness General Hospital was launched today, and recommends that the Henderson Maternity Unit moves to a midwife led model (CMU). The Report concludes that Caithness does not have the population to support an obstetrician, and that the presence of specialists without the backup of intensive care facilities or a paediatrician creates unnecessary risk factors for patients.
The Report will now be discussed by the NHS Highland Board, and if as expected the Board decides to accept the findings of the Report, Caithness General Hospital would lose its consultants and no longer be permitted to perform elective or emergency caesarean sections. It is expected however that first time mothers would once again be allowed to deliver in Caithness, provided their pregnancy remains low risk.
Caithness Health Action Team has expressed numerous concerns over the proposed new maternity model, believing that patient safety will be compromised unless transport services and emergency obstetric cover are greatly enhanced. Going forward, CHAT will urgently seek answers to the following questions:
- If we are to lose our obstetricians, what happens in the event of an emergency caesarean section or cord prolapse, when there is no time to transfer the patient to Inverness?
- What happens when a low risk, ‘green pathway' pregnancy suddenly takes a turn for the worse and becomes a high-risk labour - who will be there to intervene?
- With the Scottish Ambulance Service already under major pressure from the increased number of patient transfers, how will they find the resources to provide more ambulances?
- With labouring women requiring fixed wing transportation, do we have sufficient provision?
- What happens in the event of a road closure due to accident or adverse weather?
- Without consultants, do we lose our obstetrics and gynaecology services?
- What impact will the falling birth rate have on midwife recruitment and skills?
Nicola Sinclair said: "This Report raises as many questions as it does answers. We have already submitted FOI requests to NHS Highland and SAS to gain accurate statistics on key issues such as the frequency of patient transfers and average wait times for an ambulance. We are researching creative care models that have been successful in the past, such as consultants running local ‘hubs' and maintaining their skills through secondments.
"Island health boards have been particularly innovative in finding solutions to the challenges of rural services, and we're contacting them for ideas and inspiration. Caithness has an island postcode after all, so it's not unreasonable to explore whether we could be treated as an island community and shape services that meet our unique challenges.
"If the NHS Highland Board accepts the PHS recommendations, we would expect them to move to a full public consultation, and CHAT has been invited to provide input on what form that consultation should take. As ever, we will advocate for Caithness patients and make sure their voices are heard."
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The Convener of The Highland Council's Caithness Area Committee, Councillor David Flear, has joined the call for health bosses to consider upgrading maternity services at Caithness General Hospital. Councillor Flear intends raising the matter at the next Area Committee meeting on Monday 15 September and expects to send a firmly worded response to the Highland Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, who are currently reviewing maternity services provided in Wick as part of a Scotland-wide review.
7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am - possibly throughout the day George Bruce Interviews on Moray Firth Radio News 12:00 Noon Demonstration Begins At Caithness General Hospital 12:01pm Toot Your Horn Campaign Begins Motorist are being asked to toot their horns as they pass the demonstration at Caithness General 12:05pm Professor Calder Team Arrives Wick Airport 12:15pm Press Conference At Wick Airport 12:40pm Professor Calder Team Arrival Expected Caithness General 1:00pm Council Press Conference At Wick Town Hall Area Convenor David Flear will lead the press conference with Jenny Spence, League of Friends, Jamie Stone MSP. George Bruce, Caithness & North Sutherland Health Forum and two mothers.
The visit of Professor Andrew Calder to Wick on Monday 15 December had a big profile as it gained mentions on Moray Firth Radio, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Scotland Television News. Repeat mentions on several news broadcasts are ensuring the issue is highlighted.
Tune in to Moray Firth Radio to hear George Bruce chairman of the Caithness & North Sutherland Health Forum being interviewed about the current Maternity Review to coincide with Professor Calder's visit to Caithness General Hospital. Listen on radio or on the web by going to Moray Firth Radio web site and click on Listen.
A variety of groups that involve young mothers is likely to arrive with pushchairs and prams on Monday. Several groups from around Caithness intend to be represented at the Noon Demonstration with several intending to attend both the noon and 6:00pm demos.
As local feeling continues to rise on the Maternity Services issue in Caithness confirmation has been given that a second demonstration will take place at 6:00pm at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 15th. The first demo will happen to coincide with the arrival of Professor Calder and his team as part of the review.
Posters in Caithness supporting the demonstrations at Caithness General Hospital on Monday 15 December have turned a current Television advertising campaign for flights from Inverness airport on its head. Whilst the TV ad shows how great it is that you can now fly to many places from Inverness the posters bring home the point that few in the north want the same service for delivering babies up to 130 miles away..
Caithness Area Convenor David Flear is receiving the biggest correspondence he has ever received on any topic by a huge margin. Mail is arriving every day by post and email is constantly popping in to add weight to his arguments.
Caithness Convenor David Flear will lead a Highland Council Press Conference at Wick Town Hall on Monday 15th at 1:00pm time in the Wick Town Hall. Councillor Flear will chair the briefing.
Professor Calder is to hold a short press conference at Wick Airport shortly after he arrives. With interest in the visit now coming under intense scrutiny he is likely to face a barrage of questions from reporters.
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