Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  


MSP raises the case of Caithness twins' mother and why air ambulance wasn’t initially called

21st February 2019

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.

After going to Caithness General Hospital, the mother was informed that she would have to go to Inverness by road ambulance, over a 100 miles away and two and half hour drive.

Mrs Grant told the First Minister: "Half way into that journey they had to stop at a community hospital at Golspie when the first twin was born breech.

"The air ambulance was then tasked but because it would take two hours to arrive the first twin would be sent by road to Inverness.

"The helicopter could not land, another air ambulance was tasked but this would take too long therefore a second ambulance resumed the journey to Inverness where the second twin was born.

"Thankfully after prolonged stay in hospital all are now doing well.

"However, it begs the question why was the air ambulance or emergency retrieval team not tasked initially airlifting the mum from Caithness.

“Will the First Minister investigate this and will she make sure that the air ambulance treats situations like this as a priority?"

Nicola Sturgeon promised to investigate and conveyed her good wishes to the family. She said she could not answer immediately as to why the air ambulance was not initially tasked, and did not have information in the chamber, and but she asked the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, to look into this.

Posting from a Caithness mum on Caithness Health Action Team's Facebook site

Caithness Health Action Team - CHAT
14 February at 21:30 ·

A Mums recent story -
What's it going to take for NHS Highland to change things? Where is this going to end?

While at my work in November 2018 my waters broke and I started labour. I never expected labour as I was only 30 weeks pregnant with my twins. A few hours later we made our way through to Caithness General Hospital. I was taken good care of by the midwives in Wick while they decided on what to do next.

I was in Wick for a couple of hours and was informed I would have to go to Inverness by ambulance. I was put in the ambulance with two midwives. The ambulance crew took an incubator as well. There was no panic and everyone seemed very calm. My partner followed in the car.

We made our way to Inverness. Contractions came stronger and closer so the midwife checked me to which they weren't concerned. About 10/15mins later I had an urge to push. We stopped outside Golspie for the midwives to do a second check. It was decided we must stop at Golspie hospital. The midwives informed my partner and we made our way into Golspie.

Minutes later we arrived and I was wheeled into a very small room with a number of staff inside. Shortly after arrival about 10.30pm twin 1 was born breech. He was being looked after by doctors and nurses very soon after birth.
Thankfully twin 2 was in no rush to appear.

A TV with a video link to Inverness was wheeled into the room with a number of staff on the screen. They used this link to consult with Inverness to decide on what to do next.

I was informed a helicopter was being sent out but wouldn't be arriving till sometime later. So they sent up two nurses and a doctor by police car from Inverness to look after twin one.

We were told that a helicopter was coming but then it couldn’t land due to frost on the propellers so it had to go back down the line. They would have been able to send another helicopter but this would have been many hours later.
There was a lot of confusion, questions and lack of decisions being made on what was the best option going forward. It was eventually decided we should make our way to Inverness by ambulance.

About 2am we left for Inverness by convoy, 2 ambulances, one with me and two midwives and other with twin one and two nurses, a police car and two other cars with Drs and my partner.

When we arrived in Inverness to our surprise the Inverness midwives took over and the Wick midwives involvement was finished.

I was induced and twin 2 was born head down. He was taken to SCBU along with his brother.
We spent 6 weeks in Inverness until the twins grew strong enough. I was provided with accommodation for the full 6 weeks.

We now have many appointments in Raigmore due to no-one being able to do checks up here. Why is this?
I am expected to drive two newborns to Inverness for an appointment lasting a couple of minutes.

We all have nothing but the greatest of praise for all staff involved but often think what if something went wrong while on the A9 or even in Golspie hospital.

All parties involved did the best they could with the situation. They made us feel very comfortable and safe in their hands.

My delivery should never have happened the way it did. It could had gone so wrong.
We would like to know,
Why weren’t we flown to Inverness?
Why could specialists not come up to Wick?
Why are Wick and Golspie staff expected to work like that?

Golspie wasn’t prepared for such an emergency but they did what they could and they did amazing. This shouldn’t be the case.

We know of another birth which took place in Golspie in 2017 and wonder if anything has been learned or changed from that.

We dread to think what could have happened if the road was closed by an accident or bad weather.

There is an investigation into our incident but we are unsure if the results will be made public.


Related Organisations


Related Articles

Cyclist Team Thanked For Fundraising For CHATThumbnail for article : Cyclist Team Thanked For Fundraising For CHAT
Caithness Health Action Team would like to give our sincere thanks to this fantastic team who have raised a significant amount for us £1,765 .This money will be used to help our community.   They have cycled a distance of 874 miles equivalent of John o Groats to Lands end journey.  
CHAT and Friends Donate 30 Tablets For Staff and Patients To Keep In ContactThumbnail for article : CHAT and Friends Donate 30 Tablets For Staff and Patients To Keep In Contact
Caithness Health Action Team along with the League of Friends for Caithness General hospital wanted to help patients and staff in our local Caithness hospitals.   We contacted NHSH and agreed that providing high quality Samsung tablets ,with protective wipe able covers would be an excellent way to help ,especially as at the moment there is currently no visiting allowed due to the pandemic.  
Georgesons Solicitors Make Substantial Donation To CHATThumbnail for article : Georgesons Solicitors Make Substantial Donation To CHAT
When Bruce de Wert of Georgesons Solicitors heard of the distress of new Mums having to drive back from Inverness with their newborn in danger, he knew he had to do something.   The problem is that newborns cannot sit in car seats without compressing their lungs and it is a long way from Inverness to Caithness! And, so, he announced that this year the charity for Wills Week would be CHAT who provide lie flat car seats for for newborn babies.  
CHAT Team Visit To The New Balfour Hospital in OrkneyThumbnail for article : CHAT Team Visit To The New Balfour Hospital in Orkney
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.  
Highlands and Islands MSP raises concerns about cancelled operationsThumbnail for article : Highlands and Islands MSP raises concerns about cancelled operations
Operations had to be cancelled across NHS Highland because hospitals simply could not cope, new figures reveal.   Data published by ISD Scotland shows that 45 operations were cancelled in May 2019 due to non-clinical reasons such as not having enough staff or unclean equipment.  
Subsea7 Donate £1000 To Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT)Thumbnail for article : Subsea7 Donate £1000 To Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT)
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.  
Labour Party Visit To Caithness Hears About Third Sector and Health Issues From CHATThumbnail for article : Labour Party Visit To Caithness Hears About Third Sector and Health Issues From CHAT
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.  
New look Baby Box ready for Mother's DayThumbnail for article : New look Baby Box ready for Mother's Day
Uptake jumps to 96% as 80,000 deliveries made to parents.   The new Baby Box design, created by a team of children and young people, has been unveiled.  
New edition of NHS Scotland's guide to pregnancy, labour and birthThumbnail for article : New edition of NHS Scotland's guide to pregnancy, labour and birth
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.  
New Hospital At Aviemore Finally Goes To Planning Stage But How Long Will Caithness Redesign Take?
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.