CHAT column, October 2018

First published in John O’Groat Journal in October 2018

One of the reasons I joined CHAT was that as a group (small as it is) they are prepared to put their heads above the parapet to fight for health services in Caithness.

Some time ago a NHS Highland manager told me that they would like to see the Dunbar site developed with a new Care Home and other health services integrated there, as this would help safeguard the future of the Hospital. Anything that would stop further reductions in services appealed to me then and certainly does now. CHAT supports the idea of the Hubs and believes keeping the status quo will result in Caithness health services suffering more downgrading and possible closures.

However, we do not have to accept the proposals 100% as they have been put forward. NHSH have said that any aspect of the plan which the public are against will be reconsidered. I understand medical centres are to ask their patients and staff if they want to move. So, if there is something you are not happy with, please make your views known on the survey form and be sure to return it.

At the recent well attended Public meetings there were lots of questions put to the respective panels of experts covering things like bed numbers, types of beds, parking, ownership of buildings and mental health facilities. There were some answers but the feeling was that the public wanted more detailed answers to allow them to make a proper decision.

The outcome of this public consultation is going to be so important for our generation and generations to come.

CHAT have been gathering the views of folk in the Wick area over the redesign plans and have produced a simple questionnaire. So far over 400 have been completed and this information will be passed to NHS Highland and the Scottish Health Board who are overseeing the Public Consultation. Thurso will also get its chance to speak to CHAT.

Recently I joined a new group in Thurso called Caithness Defibrillation Campaign Group. This group was formed by Billy Mitchell who earlier this year started a campaign to find out where all the AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillator) were in Caithness and if they were registered with the Scottish Ambulance Service. Billy and other volunteers held 11 roadshows around Caithness highlighting the use of AEDs and the importance of them being registered and checked.

The new group will work in partnership with Caithness Heart Support Group and the Community Heartbeat Trust. The group’s aims are to raise the awareness of AEDs among the general public, encourage owners to register them and improve signage showing where AEDs are situated.

Currently there is no legislation covering the registration, maintenance, storage etc of this vital life saving device. This group intents to lobby politicians to introduce proper legislation.

The group includes qualified First Responders and First Aid trainers and intend to visit primary 6-7s, high schools and village communities to deliver free of charge Hands-on compression only CPR Training and AED Awareness Sessions. Thurso Fire Station have kindly allowed the group to borrow their CPR Kits for these sessions. Already three schools and four villages have made enquiries.

If you are interested in helping or want further information about the Caithness Defibrillation Campaign Group please give Billy a ring on 01847 892609.

Ron Gunn
Vice Chair Chat