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Big protest planned to highlight health cuts

By SPP Reporter

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An estimated 500 people took part in the bedpush protest in October. Photo: Will Clark
An estimated 500 people took part in the bedpush protest in October. Photo: Will Clark

THOSE campaigning against the downgrading of health services in Caithness are urging anyone who has received treatment at hospitals in the county to make their voices heard at a mass protest.

Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) is organising a demonstration at Bignold Park in Wick later this month to show members’ concern at the loss of local health services in recent years.

It is inviting anyone who has received treatment or been cared for at local hospitals to join together at Bignold Park on Sunday, April 23.

As part of the protest, the group plans to split people into categories of treatment they have received and photograph those that have relied on local services.

Men and women of all ages are invited to take part in the event.

It is part of Chat’s attempts to get its message across asking NHS Highland to stop the cuts to health services in Caithness.

In October, more than 500 people took part in a bed-push protest from Thurso to Wick against cuts – in particular the reduction of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital.

Chat chairwoman Kirsteen Campbell said the group wants people to come along to the protest to show how valued hospitals in Caithness are.

She said: “Sometimes words are just words, whereas a photo can say a whole lot more.

“A photo can make you realise just how many people can be affected. We want to get people into different categories of the treatment they received to get our message across.

“The hospital aren’t doing as much as they used to due to all the cuts.

So we want to show them in numbers of how many people in the county have received different types of treatment.”

Among the sections will be maternity emergencies such as sections, forceps, tears, bleeds as well as routine or emergency gynaecological operations, emergency surgeries and elderly care which have all been affected as a result of loss of services.

Chat representatives travelled to Holyrood last week to deliver a petition of 6369 signatures to health minister Shona Robison to highlight the concerns in the county about hospital services.

They were unable to meet her personally, but Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain accepted the petition and later delivered it to Ms Robison.

Mrs Campbell said they have already received a massive response to the planned protest and she hopes people will come out in force to show their support.

“I really hope we receive at least double the amount of people who took part in the bed push. The bed-push protest was successful, but we have come a long way since then and a lot has happened since October.

“This protest is not just about maternity services, it is about everything. We need to show how important our hospitals have been to the county.”

The protest begins at 2.30pm. For more information visit the Caithness Health Action Team Facebook site.

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