Highland Council Welcomes Change in Direction for West Highland Health Services Project
2nd December 2003
5,900 people - three quarters of all households wrote letters.
The Highland Council has warmly welcomed a decision by NHS Highland to rethink plans for future acute hospital services in the Belford Hospital, Fort William.
As a result of unprecedented representations from throughout Lochaber, the Board has agreed that the next phase of the West Highland Project will bring together a Solutions Group, which will involve key parties to agree the best possible solution for sustainable and affordable acute services for the Belford.
Local GP and Vice Convener of The Highland Council Dr Michael Foxley was asked to address the Highland NHS Board during their discussion in Inverness today (Tuesday). He suggested that the parties work together constructively to positively resolve issues.
He said: "I very much welcome the change in direction by the Highland NHS Board, who clearly recognise the strength of opposition in Lochaber to any proposed downgrading of the Belford Hospital. It is quite remarkable that 5,900 people - three-quarters of the households in the area - took the time and trouble to write to the NHS Highland Board to voice their concerns. I am also pleased that the Board noted that our Lochaber Medical Community Group have done a lot of work on consultant numbers, rotas and training.
"We are happy to work with the Highland NHS Board as well as with other agencies especially the Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to address these key issues which affect the Belford and will be of benefit to Wick, Oban and Stornoway. It is essential to retain 24/7 consultant led services."
He stressed that without a consultant-led service in rural hospitals, the Highlands would fail to attract inward investment and hasten depopulation and the decline of our communities. Ultimately the Scottish Executive would need to address this.
Councillor Olwyn Macdonald, Lochaber Area Convener of The Highland Council said, "I am pleased that we have moved away from sitting in judgement on options. The new approach will see closer working together to solve the problems that are facing us. I remain firm in my view that we need a 24 hour, consultant-led, acute hospital at the Belford Hospital."
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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