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Caithness News Bulletins December 2003

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22 December 03

The Highland Council is to investigate the feasibility of commissioning an independent appraisal of the impact on local communities of vital hospital services.

The Council has been very closely involved in voicing the concerns of local communities at proposed NHS reviews of maternity services at Caithness General Hospital, Wick, and the consultant led acute services at the Belford Hospital, Fort William.

Their concern is that the current reviews are centred solely on clinical needs.

Convener Alison Magee said: "We need a 360 degree view of this crucial issue. We will investigate the possibility of appointing an independent person to examine the impact on a community if vital lifeline services are not available locally. Finding such a person may be a challenge but it is very much worth examining as I believe this kind of research will be of assistance in providing a wider and clearer picture of the impact that locally available health services have on a community."

She said the study could look at the impact on the ambulance service if, for example, maternity services were withdrawn from Caithness General Hospital and the risks facing expectant mothers if they had to travel for three hours to Inverness for treatment.

Vice-Convener Michael Foxley said: "This kind of information is essential to highlight the social impact on a community of local health services. We need to describe the consequences of certain options on patients and the ambulance service."


Caithness Area Chairman Councillor David Flear welcomed the Council's continuing support of the campaign. He said: "This is a welcome initiative from The Highland Council and it confirms their support for the retention and development of our maternity services in Caithness.  The public have supported this campaign in great numbers and I am sure will be delighted with this development."