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Caithness Economic Partnership to Carry Out Review on Impact of Maternity Services Downgrade

10th November 2000

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. There is a general feeling that is growing that services in general for Caithness are longer so important as cost savings. Will the north always suffer when the Highland structure requires to cut costs. We already have plenty of evidence that since "Designed to Care" abolished the Caithness & Sutherland NHS Trust and split into Acute and Primary Trusts with management control effectively shifted to Inverness that decisions taken have an adverse effect on Caithness & to a lesser extent Sutherland. The imminent closure of the laundry in Caithness to have all the linen transported to Inverness is yet another example. All of the decisions are being taken independently without it seems thought to the overall cumulative effect.

Loss of managerial posts, closure of the laundry, downgrading of maternity seems to be a drip-drip downward spiral each one leading inexorably to the next. The maternity unit is a domino in another set. If it falls other services will go as that knocks on into other professions within the hospital. Before long the necessity for a range of other services will be brought into question on cost grounds. Health services in rural areas will always be more expensive on a unit cost basis - they always have been. The quality of care is expected to be the same for everyone but if that quality is said to be the same by the population making ever more trips to Inverness then something is going seriously wrong. Dirty linen trundling up and down the road from Caithness is bad enough but patients is even worse.

Sit down and make a list of all the withdrawals of all of the withdrawals of government departments, local authority cut backs over the last 10 years - look at the numbers of jobs gone and you will understand how the economy is also tied to these decisions. The list is long and getting longer. Thurso has been saved from much of the impact by the new firms attracted and the continuation and recent expansion of work at Dounreay but the drip of other jobs in the health service has a definite economic impact as well as for services to people on the area. Anyone can put their comments on to the Caithness.Org Message Board - lets hear them.

[This article has been transferred here from our archives]


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