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CHAT welcomes Rebecca Wymer's petition for better women's health services in Caithness and Sutherland

By Jean Gunn

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Rebecca Wymer has filed a petition with the Scottish Government for better women's health services in Caithness and Sutherland.
Rebecca Wymer has filed a petition with the Scottish Government for better women's health services in Caithness and Sutherland.

Ron Gunn, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT), said the group would be backing Rebecca Wymer's call for safer and more accessible health services for local women.

He stated: "We are trying to highlight our campaign for an independent review of maternity services and women's health services in Caithness, so we certainly would be backing this petition."

The twenty-eight-year-old health campaigner from John O'Groats, who has filed her petition with the Scottish Government, stated: "Women's health services in Caithness and Sutherland are shocking and dangerous. The situation simply wouldn't be acceptable anywhere else in the country."

She is calling for women's healthcare services to be fairer, safer and more accessible.

The campaigner stressed: "This is absolutely not a petition against NHS staff, but a request for the whole set-up to be reviewed before someone gets seriously hurt. NHS staff are stressed and exhausted and would benefit from changes bought about by a review.

"The journey for routine or emergency appointments from Wick to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, is the same as from Edinburgh to Newcastle– it's far too far. The current system puts pressure on Raigmore and their staff, causing a vicious cycle of staff shortage due to illness and long waiting lists.

"There are no specific services for miscarriage, menopause, fertility or gynaecology in the northern counties."

Ms Wymer (28), who can relate to the problems she has encountered herself while living with endometriosis, continued: "Women are missing routine appointments as the lengthy round trip is often too time or financially costly. This often leads to delayed diagnosis, causing unnecessary surgical requirements.

"Being in pain – sometimes chronic pain – and being expected to sit on public transport or in a car for hours to see a gynaecologist is cruel.

"The A9 is often dangerously busy or closed due to adverse weather. Air ambulance is not always appropriate and every ambulance used to transport to Raigmore is taken away from the area for other local shout-outs.

"The bottom line is that the women of the north and their families are being treated by the government like second class citizens. Caithness General is a wonderful facility, with the ability to support a permanent gynaecology service, thus taking the pressure off Raigmore."

She pointed out that women's health directly affects 51 per cent of the population and has a knock-on effect on mental health, families, workplaces, the economy and personal financial debt.

"Many women are paying for private treatment as they simply cannot live in so much pain any longer," the campaigner said. "Often to the excess of £10k."

Questioning why Scotland's representative for women's health Maree Todd MSP was also minister for sport and public health she said: "It's far too big a job to be lumped together with other roles. It's insulting to women everywhere in Scotland that they need to share this title with sport."

The petition already has over 600 signatures and has received lots of encouraging feedback. It can be found at the following link: Complete an emergency in-depth review of Women's Health services in Caithness & Sutherland - Petitions (parliament.scot)

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