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Eye On Health Services In Caithness
Maternity  - A New Action Committee

12 February 04
A New Action Team Is Formed - North Action Group
Over 100 people turned out on Wednesday night to form a new Action Committee to defend consultant led maternity services in Caithness.  Amongst many suggestions it was acknowledged that the fight might extend to more than just maternity as much more might be under threat if the maternity fight was to be lost. 

The new committee elected from the floor with the normal nominations and seconders was as follows -
George Bruce - Chair 01847 892552 gb@scrabsterportservices.co.uk 
Aelex Bain Vice-chair 0955 609341 Aelex11@aol.com 
Lorna Mackenzie - Secretary lorna.m.mackenzie@highland.gov.uk 
Karen Munro -
Martin Duffy
Frank Ward
Mollie Baikie
Graham Smith - councillor 01955 605298
Bill Fernie - councillor 01955 604648
Tom Jackson - councillor 01847 893583
Tracy MacDonald
Fiona Gunn
Elizabeth more
Rev Stevie Thomson 01955 604252
Lynne Duncan
Kerry Mackenzie

The audience agreed that the committee could co-op other members as required.  It was pointed out that essentially everyone who was in the hall was involved.  Others had volunteered their services and an accountant had offered to help prepare financial statements assessing the outcomes of the loss of consultant led services to the Health Board.  this might involve looking at the extra costs of ambulances and expenses of families in going up and down to Inverness.

Meeting In Assembly Rooms, Wick To Form New Action Group

The meeting did not go over the ground that most folk were familiar with regarding the reasons for retention of consultant led services.

A range of proposals were made to be considered by the new group including further demonstrations both in Caithness and lobbying groups to travel to party conferences which might start with the Labour party conference in a few weeks in Inverness.   Lobbying MSP's Health Board members and others would be undertaken.  the matter of financing a campaign that might last many months was discussed and it was agreed that fund raising would be considered.  The SSP immediately donated funds they had already collected to help pay for buses etc.  it was announced that highland council was donating the use of rooms for meetings and Convenor David Flear who could not be at the meeting had made a personal donation of 50 to the funds.  A collection was also taken at the door.

A suggestion made on Saturday's meeting to link up with other groups nationally will be looked at and an invitation to meet a group in Glasgow was made.

The suggestion made on Saturday of a Mothers Day Rally was approved by the audience and this will also be taken up by the new group.

The new group will hold its first meeting on Tuesday 17 February at 7.00pm in the Assembly Rooms. Wick.  Caithness.org will set up pages as required to keep everyone informed of actions to be taken by the committee and let everyone know what action they would like people to take whether at meetings or other action.

George Bruce who is also chairman of the Caithness Health Forum has already requested that the next Health Board meeting be held in Caithness to allow people to attend the meeting.

Both Graham Smith and Frank Ward were of the opinion that a long fight might be ahead with Frank Ward taking the view that the Scottish Executive would use the tactics of drawing things out to wear down opposition.  that he said was the reason why the report by Professor Calder that was thought to be coming out in February but now may not be out until April at the earliest.

Dr Nail Pearson a new local GP spoke in support of the new group and said although he would find it difficult to be  involved he would help with any medical advice if that was helpful.  He referred to examples of patients that would find the lack of consultants difficult and said that it was not just women expecting babies but women after giving birth or older women with gynaecological requirements who would need to travel to Inverness.

A representative of the League of Friends who set the campaign rolling thanked everyone who had supported the campaign so far and hoped that the new group would have all the support from the community that had been shown up to date.