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Postcard protest to be sent to First Minister


By SPP Reporter


CHAT campaigns with postcards they will send to Holyrood
CHAT campaigns with postcards they will send to Holyrood

A CAMPAIGN group is sending 1000 postcards to First Minister NicolaSturgeon in protest at the centralisation of local health services under NHS Highland.

Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) has collected 2400 postcards from the public with the slogan, 100miles too far, referring to the length of journey patients often have tomake to receive basic care.

In 2016, 14,786 patients from Caithness and Sutherland travelled for appointments at Raigmore Hospital inInverness, many only lasting five minutes and which could have beenconducted over the phone.

In addition, about 90 per cent of maternity patients now give birth inInverness. Many mothers are making the journey down the A9 without anambulance while in labour.

Members of the community have written comments on the postcards, sharingtheir own health carestories and protesting against any further downgrades to hospitalservices.

Many people have used the postcards to express their fear the maternitychanges could result in tragedy. Others comment on their experiencestravelling to Raigmore for basic health procedures. Centralisation is a common theme.

Chat is sending a first batch of 1000 postcards to Ms Sturgeon and isinviting health secretaryShona Robison to travel to Caithness for a meeting and to accept the remaining 1400 in person.

She previously agreed to meet Chat in Edinburgh but has not committed tomaking the journey to Wick. The campaign group previously issued apetition to Ms Robison carrying more than 6000 signatures.

Chat chairman Bill Fernie said yesterday: “The strength of feeling inthe community cannot be overestimated. Between the recent maternitydowngrade, the scandalous number of patients making a 200-plus mileround trip for five minute appointments and now the bed review, there’sa real sense that health care is being centralised and Caithness in particular will feel the brunt of NHS Highland’s budget cuts. We hopethe Scottish Government will finally decide to intervene in thissituation.”

Nicola Sinclair, a Wick and east Caithness Highland councillor and Chat founding member, said: “NHS Highlandfrequently blame the lack of health services in Caithness onstaffing shortages but that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The threat ofclosure has hovered over our hospitals for decades and recruitmentefforts have been piecemeal at best, so it’s little wonder they are nowshort of staff and running up huge bills for locum cover.

This is afailure in workforce planning and in innovation. Closure andcentralisation is not the answer and we’ll continue to campaign forsafer local services.”



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