Challenge to SNP and Tories in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross from Labour
15th May 2017
Candidates standing for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in the General Election have been challenged to spell out what action they would take to support local health campaigners if elected as an MP.
Scottish Labour's Olivia Bell said she was keen that the action part of supporting the local community wasn't lost in hot air and fine words.
"I see my challenge as particularly aimed at those candidates whose Parties currently hold the power - both at Holyrood and Westminster - so the SNP and the Tories," said Ms Bell, a first time candidate.
"Years of campaigning, both for newspapers and supporting politicians, has taught me that the easiest thing to do is to say it's a problem for another agency, in this case the health authority, and give that authority a kicking, even when it is being hit with millions of pounds worth of cuts.
"What is harder, is to acknowledge a problem, carry out research and have talks with the experts and then come up with some solutions, while continuing to speak to local campaigners.
"Those politicians currently in power have a duty to bend the ear of their governments to push for changes and more investment to get results."
Ms Bell (59) has sent her position and her support for CHAT's campaign to the group after a request from its chair Bill Fernie.
"CHAT's decision to withdraw from the Caithness Maternity and Gynaecological Group should make every politician sit up and take notice," added Ms Bell.
"It shows the strength of feeling and distrust from the community and it's hard to see how that can be bridged to begin a dialogue again."
She has also acknowledged concerns over the future of Dunbar Hospital, its staffing problems, shortage of GPs, missed hospital waiting time targets and issues over the lack of Patient Transport, especially in Sutherland, and in addition the SNP's woeful record on education.
"People are really worried that the area will be the forgotten region when it comes to health care and other services," she said.
"If elected, I would work hard to increase investment in rural health and push for more innovative programmes to be introduced, modelled and centred on the more remote areas of the region. Vital would be keeping consultants' skills up to date, while still serving patients in rural areas and finding more money for local facilities.
"I would liaise with Scottish Labour MSPs, who deal with devolved powers and have already backed a 1p increase on the basic rate of income tax to invest in public services such as the NHS, social security and education.
"The future of our health service is too important to leave in the hands of the Tories, who want to strip it and privatise it, or the SNP who want to centralise services and starve the NHS of cash so cuts have to be made year on year."
Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) has gathered 2,410 postcards from members of the public protesting the centralisation of health services under NHS Highland. The postcards carry the slogan ‘100 miles too far' in reference to the 100 mile journey patients frequently have to travel to receive basic care.
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.
[Printer Friendly Version]