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North Action Group Maternity Services Campaign On Caithness.org  

SSP Letter Challenges Health Board Members Ahead Of Public Consultation Announcements

Scottish Socialist Party
Suite 14, Castle Street Office Suites, Inverness.

NHS Highland Board Members

Dear Board Member

I am writing to you to express the views of the SSP on the matter of consultant-led services at Caithness Maternity wing, which will be discussed at the Board meeting on August 3rd.

Maternity units across the UK and Scotland have been systematically centralised in order to conform with government wishes. Often these reorganisations have been accompanied by loss of other services despite promises to the contrary.

Caithness is the most geographically isolated unit on the mainland. If EU working time regulations require additional consultant hours, then the Board should fund that requirement. Recruitment problems at Caithness have been no worse than anywhere else, and not terminal as claimed by your own officials.

In recent months SSP members have been dismayed by the level of misinformation emanating from your own officials, false statistics and pressure on employees to remain silent.

The Highland Health Board is, like every other Board and Trust in the UK, an unelected and unaccountable Quango. You got your job on the Board through no democratic process. Most of you are actually highly-paid employees of the Board. But that does not absolve you of your responsibility to the people of Caithness and North Sutherland.

All I can do is appeal to your humanity. I ask you to reject the false arguments that the Caithness Unit is unsafe and unsustainable. It is not.  However, the alternatives - to increase the numbers of pregnant women travelling many miles and spend weeks away from home - ARE unsafe. Emergencies and travelling will inevitably result in death or disability.

The Chairman's claims in the Press that a downgrading will produce a "far better service" is typical of the humbug that discredits public servants across a whole range of issues. Not a single argument from your officials has succeeded, as far as I am aware, in convincing any active campaigner that the current service is unsafe. If it were, we would be the first to be making a noise about it.

In determining the parameters of the so-called 'consultation' process to come, I urge you to DO YOUR JOB and insist that retention of the existing level of service is both a realistic and indeed essential option.

Yours faithfully

Luke Ivory
Highlands & Island SSP
Spokesperson for Caithness & Sutherland Branch SSP