Public Anxiety Over Highland Maternity Services Review
26th September 2000
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 email@example.com .
Following a review nearly three years ago fears were allayed about possible down grading of the services at the Caithness General Hospital. The matter is again to be looked at and the maternity services review committee will start its work shortly. The committee is to be chaired by Monica Mouat from Highland Health Council.
There is a feeling from the Health side that the public disquiet is somewhat premature as the committee has not even started its work. However there is considerable local fear that the current financial problems of the NHS trusts may have some bearing on the eventual outcome.
A local committee to fight closure (which is not suggested as an option) or down grading to midwife only service, has been formed and is led by local councillors. There has been a series of stories running in the local and other Highland papers. The John O'Groat journal devoted its whole front page to the matter last week. Letters from members of the public expressing their fears about the long journey to Inverness (100 - 140 miles) 3 to 4 hours by road. Also letters from mothers who have experienced problems with childbirth and the possible consequences if expert medical treatment had not been available locally. This issue is growing in the public mind and is a wide spread topic of discussion in many quarters. A petition has been in shops and offices for the last two weeks. The committee were out on the streets of Caithness getting signatures on Saturday.
The Caithness Courier again has it as its front page story. Last week the John O'Groat Journal and the Press & Journal ran stories revealing a secret cost cutting plan to try and tackle the Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. the maternity unit was specifically mentioned as being inefficient and recommended the relocation of specialist staff to Inverness. The inefficiency comes not from any short comings of the staff but from the low birth rate in recent years in Caithness. The fact is that people of child bearing age are leaving the area and many reports point to demographic changes in the age structure of the population due in part to economic factors.
More stories are coming forward almost daily of the problems women have had in the past which would not have been coped with if they had had to go to Inverness. Everyone is waiting for developments or statements but to date no assurances about the services have been given by either the Trust or the Health Board.
If anyone has information or would like to say what they think on the matter the Message Board already has a section to use. Any significant details will be transferred to these pages over the coming months.
[This article has been transferred here from our archives]
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.
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