We hope things will start to go in the right direction
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MY HOPES FOR 2022: Ron Gunn, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team
Health campaigners in Caithness are looking forward to "meaningful discussions" with NHS management in the year ahead as they keep up the pressure for more mums to be able to give birth locally rather than at Raigmore.
Members of Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT) will continue to call for an independent review of maternity and women's health services in the county but in the meantime they have taken encouragement from a recent senior appointment at the health board.
"We hope things will be starting to go in the right direction," CHAT chairman Ron Gunn said.
"Our secretary Maria Aitken and I met with Mike Hayward, the new NHS Highland deputy chief officer for rural general hospitals. Mike was appointed recently and brings a great deal of NHS experience to the Highlands.
"He wants to bring services back to rural hospitals as much as possible and improve the rotation of consultants to make more use of our operating theatres.
"He would also like CHAT to come around the table for regular meetings with NHS managers and clinicians for frank and meaningful discussions where we will continue to voice the concerns from our community.
"We all know that we have a great new community midwife unit in Caithness General Hospital and, like everyone else in Caithness, we hope to see more women giving birth in Wick. NHS Highland managers have said they are working on ways for more births to take place there.
"For a number of reasons we will be continuing to campaign for an independent review of maternity and women's health services in Caithness and would like to think that our constituency MSP, Maree Todd, who is also Scotland's minister for public health and women's health, will support this campaign.
"Our friends in Moray, Keep MUM, successfully campaigned for their review and if Humza Yousaf, the health secretary, thinks it's unacceptable for Moray mothers to travel to Aberdeen to give birth, how is it acceptable for 90 per cent of north mums to travel 110 miles to Inverness to give birth?"
Mr Gunn added: "Finally, let's hope for the sake of the NHS, care homes, businesses, restaurants, cafés, bars and our community at large, 2022 is the year we see the battle against coronavirus won."