Campaign Pressure Rises Steadily
6th October 2000
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. Every group where mothers meet is discussing the topic and every person in Caithness is being made aware of the threat not just to the maternity service itself but the possible knock on effects of other hospital based services. People are beginning to realise that several services provided in the hospital might be no longer considered viable and so like dominoes they would fall one after another - maternity first, then possibly anaesthetics and who can guess next as one tier knocks on to a reduction in the next and so to it also coming under threat in turn.
The campaign team are speaking to politicians in all parties and at all levels. Letter writing is going on and no post bag is going to be empty for long on this topic until it is resolved. The Health Board decision to delay the review which was to have started shortly is seen as a delaying tactic by many people in the hope that the campaign may die out. This is unlikely as several politicians of several parties are now swinging in behind the campaign. This is too close to people to be left to chance and everyone in Caithness is likely to support this highly local issue for any number of reasons.
Perhaps the minister should consider whether months of campaigning is really necessary if assurances could be given not to down grade the service but put all the energy which will be required to take on the whole Caithness population into finding a solution to ensure that clinical standards and training of medical staff can be kept up to acceptable levels. No one doubts that the low birth rate now evident in the north is a problem for the staff in maintaining their skills. This is in part to other outside economic forces as unemployment and education takes young people away from the area.
Caithnessians are having babies but they are having them in every other part of the country or indeed the world as they leave to get work. Just look at the reunion pages on this web site. We already know of young Caithness families in Australia and elsewhere with up to four children. The primary schools in Caithness certainly wish they were here. But that problem cannot be solved quickly despite years of trying by the authorities.
The fact is that if the services are down graded they will probably never be reinstated and Caithness will become even less attractive to people thinking about bring their young families to the county when mothers would be faced with over 240 miles round trip to see consultants or feel insecure in the knowledge that expertise was only available at the end of a phone.
[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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