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Call for consultant-led maternity services to be restored to Caithness


By Alan Hendry

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Hospital clinics in Wick have been cancelled in the early part of this week but 'poor mums have no option but to travel to Raigmore to give birth no matter what the weather conditions are', the Liberal Democrats said. The picture was taken in April 2020 but the weather has been similar this week. Picture: DGS
Hospital clinics in Wick have been cancelled in the early part of this week but 'poor mums have no option but to travel to Raigmore to give birth no matter what the weather conditions are', the Liberal Democrats said. The picture was taken in April 2020 but the weather has been similar this week. Picture: DGS

Liberal Democrats in the far north have called for consultant-led maternity services to be restored to Caithness after claiming that expectant mothers in the county have been put in an “unsafe and grossly unfair” situation.

Local MP Jamie Stone and the party's Holyrood candidate Molly Nolan spoke out after it emerged that clinics scheduled at Caithness General Hospital on the first two days of this week were being cancelled because the wintry weather would prevent staff getting to Wick.

“Our poor mums have no option but to travel to Raigmore to give birth no matter what the weather conditions are,” Mr Stone said.

Mr Stone, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said: "Ever since the SNP decided to centralise many health services in Inverness, including maternity, I have been warning about the dangers of forcing mums to travel hundreds of miles to give birth and other patients making return journeys from Caithness in winter weather.

“Since day one I have demanded a safety audit from the Scottish Government. They have never followed up on that call. Their silence speaks volumes.

"We are not far from an election and, while healthcare shouldn't be be used as a political football, I do think it is important that we all know exactly where each of the candidates stands on the issue of local healthcare services.

“I call on them to come forward and make a pledge to reverse centralisation and restore the services once provided in Caithness."

Ms Nolan said: "The situation expectant mothers face in Caithness is unsafe and grossly unfair. Nobody should be expected to travel 100 miles down a dangerous road to give birth, especially when it is deemed too unsafe for NHS staff to travel up it.”

A spokesman for NHS Highland said: "NHS Highland can confirm that optometry and orthoptic clinics at Caithness General Hospital which were scheduled for yesterday [April 5] and today [April 6] have been postponed. This is due to adverse weather conditions.

"All those affected will have their appointments rescheduled as soon as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."


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