CHAT column, December 2018

First published in John O’Groat Journal in December 2018

What happens now that the three month public consultation is finished? Well, NHS Highland will analyse the feedback from 100 meetings and the  2000 plus survey reports that were returned. A formal consultation report will then be produced, with recommendations to be put to the NHS Highland Board in January. Should the board make a decision on a preferred way forward it would then go to the Cabinet Secretary for a final decision on whether NHS Highland can formally move into developing the Business Case.

It was obvious from the local consultation meetings that Caithness folk still have concerns over maternity matters and NHS Highland have promised to hold a public meeting to discuss this subject.

CHAT have formed a sub group called CHAT4Mums. This group will be campaigning for equality of services for maternity and paediatrics for Caithness families, as well as helping mums and babies in any way we can. At the moment we  provide lie flat car seats for the long journey home to Caithness for babies born in Inverness and even some born as far away as Edinburgh and Aberdeen. We also provide 100 Mile Helper Kits for maternity emergencies. A total of 33 babies have used the car seats so far and there are already lots of bookings for the months ahead. Several have been used to take babies back down to Raigmore for appointments. We are currently looking at the possibility of providing TENS machines to help with pain relief for mums to be.

We are always looking for new members and would encourage anyone who would like to help in any way, to join our committee.  Our meetings are held once a month either in Wick or Thurso.

If you are interested in joining this group please email us info@caithnesshealth.com.

It is not only CHAT who continue to campaign on maternity services. Local MP Jamie Stone recently raised the matter in the House of Commons. I have heard some criticism of this action but I believe if constituents complain to their elected official and he is able to raise the concerns in the highest democratic place in the land, surely it is his duty and he is only doing the job he was elected to do.

I recently attended a meeting of the Riverbank Practice Patient Participation Group and it was great to hear how the group supports the practice and how services have developed over the last few years. Five years ago they were totally reliant on locums, now they have the equivalent of three full time GPs and two new advanced nurse practitioners. Physiotherapy appointments are also available two days a week. Regular locums give additional cover so there is now better opportunity for continuity of care.  The RPPPG is always on the look out for new members. Anyone interested should get in contact with the practice.

The Caithness Defibrillator Awareness Group also have some good news. They wrote to numerous MSPs, including the First Minister, looking for support, but only MSP David Stewart replied and has recently met with the group. He now intends to take up several issues including registration of defibrillators with Scottish Government officials.

In Scotland 3,000 people a year have a cardiac arrest outside hospital and only 6% go on to survive. Administering a shock with a defibrillator within 3-5 minutes of collapse can produce a survival rate of up to 75%.

Ron Gunn
Vice chair Chat