CHAT sends first batch of 1,000 protest postcards to First Minister
7th September 2017
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. In 2016 14,786 patients from Caithness and Sutherland travelled for appointments at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, many of which last only 5 minutes and could be conducted on the phone. Meanwhile, around 90% of maternity patients now give birth in Inverness, and many mothers are making the journey down the A9 without an ambulance, whilst in labour.
Members of the community have written comments on the postcards, sharing their own healthcare stories and protesting against any further downgrades to hospital services. Many people have used the postcards to express their fear that the maternity changes could result in tragedy, while others comment on their experiences travelling to Raigmore for basic healthcare procedures. Centralisation is a common theme across the board.
CHAT is sending a first batch of 1,000 postcards to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and is inviting Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison to travel to Caithness for a meeting with CHAT, where she can accept the remaining 1,410 in person. Ms Robison has previously agreed to meet with CHAT in Edinburgh but has not committed to making the journey to Wick. CHAT previously issued a petition to Ms Robison carrying more than 6,000 signatures.
CHAT Chairman Bill Fernie said: ‘The strength of feeling in the community cannot be overestimated. Between the recent maternity downgrade, the scandalous number of patients making a 200+ mile round trip for 5 minute appointments and now the bed review, there's a real sense that healthcare is being centralised and Caithness in particular will feel the brunt of NHS Highland's budget cuts. We hope the Scottish Government will finally decide to intervene in this situation.’
Nicola Sinclair, Councillor and CHAT founding member said: ‘NHS Highland frequently blame the lack of healthcare services in Caithness on staffing shortages, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: the threat of closure has hovered over our hospitals for decades, and recruitment efforts have been piecemeal at best, so it’s little wonder they are now short of staff and running up huge bills for locum cover. This is a failure in workforce planning and in innovation. Closure and centralisation is not the answer, and we’ll continue to campaign for safer local services.’
On Friday 18th October four of the CHAT's team visited the new Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall, Orkney. The main purpose of the visit was partly to see then hospital but in particular how maternity services work there.
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Mikie Aitken , Quality Control Inspector for Subsea7 Wester Site ,recently won a thousand pounds for a safety award while working on the Equinor Snorre project to be given to a charity of his choice. He chose to donate to Caithness Health Action Team 100mile helper kits which are given to Caithness General Hospital , Community Maternity Unit who give the kits to local women that have to be quickly transferred to Raigmore maternity hospital in an emergency situation.
A visit of the Labour Party Leader in Scotland Richard Leonard MSP accompanied by Rhoda Grant MSP heard from the third sector and Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) about problems arising to the community from changes to health provision and wide range of topics. Roger Saxon the local Labour party organiser and Alan Tait from Caithness Voluntary Group facilitated the meeting at the Pulteney Centre in Wick.
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A popular resource for pregnant women and their families has been updated to include the latest information on perinatal mental health support. A refreshed edition of Scotland's ‘Ready Steady Baby' publication was launched today by Minister for Public Health Joe FitzPatrick.
With respect to the new hospital at Aviemore Dr Boyd Peters said "We have been on this journey since 2012 and the land purchase is a significant step towards securing much needed modern healthcare facilities for the population of Badenoch and Strathspey" After seven years it finally reaches the planning stage so that must mean yet another two or even three years until its on the ground and working. In Caithness redesign of health services has been going on and on for several years and recently we have the early stages of a "hub" idea being promoted.
NHS Highland's annual review has been rescheduled for Tuesday 09 April 2019. It will be held in the Centre for Health Science, Inverness with Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, in attendance.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has raised with the First Minister why the air ambulance was not initially called when a Caithness mother went into labour at 30 weeks with twins. At First Minister's Questions today, Mrs Grant told Nicola Sturgeon the woman had bravely shared her experience of giving birth under the current maternity provisions in Caithness.
Have you had problems with healthcare? Do you want to complain, but need someone to help you? Caithness Health Action Team have organised for Patient Advice and Support Service to come to Wick (am in the Norseman hotel) and Thurso (pm in the Pentland hotel) on the 17th April. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Private message Caithness Health Action Team on Facebook Phone:07437340146 This service is confidential and by appointment..
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