CHAT has run some extraordinarily successful campaigns since we were founded by a group of local mums. We are enormously grateful to the people of Caithness who have turned out in their hundreds, come rain or shine, and supported us at rallies, fundraisers, and even trips to Parliament. We simply could not do this without you.
Here are some of our highlights….
THE BIG PUSH, OCTOBER 2016
Our first big publicity event, The Big Push, saw 21 teams push a makeshift hospital bed 21 miles from the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso to Caithness General Hospital in Wick. More than 600 members of the public joined us for the final leg of the journey, and we received national press coverage. The march was to protest the downgrading of our maternity services and the relentless centralisation that is systematically destroying local care.
TOWN HALL DEMONSTRATION, NOVEMBER 2016
This protest outside the Wick Town Hall was organised to show our Highland Councillors how much we needed them to pull together and join in the fight.
This tongue-in-cheek campaign started with us sending a small model cow to every MSP in Holyrood. Why? Because EU law prohibits the transfer of pregnant livestock, yet Caithness mums are transferred 100+ miles to give birth, often whilst in labour. Mooternity aimed to rally politicians to our cause, and in case they missed us, we then appeared at Scottish Parliament with a lifesize cutout cow and a petition carrying more than 6000 signatures demanding a rethink of our maternity care model.
BIGNOLD PARK RALLY, APRIL 2017
Over the course of our campaign we’ve received thousands of personal stories from local people about the services that have saved or improved their lives. We wanted to highlight that despite being a small community, we do still need our local hospitals. So we asked people to turn out in the Bignold Park for a ‘visual demonstration’. More than 800 people attended in the pouring rain, showing once again the unwavering support we enjoy from our local community.
In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, we met with every MP candidate in our constituency, asking for them to pledge their support for retaining local healthcare services.
100 MILES TOO FAR… POSTCARD CAMPAIGN
For our postcard campaign, we sent 2,500+ postcards to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The postcards carried the message ‘100 miles too far’, and local people (plus supporters from around the world) wrote their own messages and experiences. We sent the first batch of 1,000 direct to the FM along with an invitation to come to Caithness and meet us.
100 MILE HELPER KITS
These kits are for mothers who have to go to Raigmore unexpectedly and have nothing with them to help them with their basic needs.
The kit has essentials a mother needs such as sanitary products, toiletries, water, energy bars, head rest, key for the disabled toilet, baby blanket and nappies.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AND PROTESTS, 2017
In 2017, we feared an NHS Highland review of hospital provision in Caithness could affect palliative care services in the area: we were concerned that Wick Town and County Hospital could close and inpatient beds could go at Dunbar Hospital in Thurso.
We wanted to show NHS Highland that enough is enough, and that we wanted our services to stay local! First we organised a candelight vigil outside the Town and County Hospital. Then later that week, we organised a mass day of action, which started in Thurso with a march from Dunbar Hospital to Thurso high school. In the afternoon in Wick, we held a march from the Town and County Hospital to the assembly rooms. After both marches we had speakers and the public were given the chance to put their questions to them.
The large turnouts sent a clear message that local communities did not want to see an erosion of health services. The protests were the biggest NHS Highland had seen in the area.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AT TOWN AND COUNTY HOSPITAL, OCTOBER 2017
PROTEST MARCH AGAINST CUTS, OCTOBER 2017
CAITHNESS HEALTH RE-DESIGN
Following the public protests, NHS Highland changed their review of hospital bed provision in Caithness.
In 2017 and 2018, NHS Highland undertook a review of adult health and social care services in Caithness. NHS Highland ran a public consultation on some proposed changes for health and social care in Caithness (20th August – 23rd November 2018). All of the information related to this can be found on their website:
SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT, FEBRUARY 2018
Five members of CHAT met with the health minister Shona Robison on Wednesday 7th February 2018.
BABY SEATS, 2018
Caithness lie flat baby car seats are available for all parents to bring their baby home safely. The first car seat was loaned in June 2018.
VISIT TO THE BALFOUR HOSPITAL IN ORKNEY, OCTOBER 2019
On Friday 18th October four of the CHAT’s team visited the new Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall, Orkney. The main purpose of the visit was partly to see the hospital but in particular how maternity services work there.
See our blog item.