Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

VIDEO: Furious mothers to travel 100 miles to take on health chiefs over Highland maternity services

Furious mothers are travelling 100 miles to face down health chiefs today in a last-gasp battle against the downgrading of maternity services in Caithness.

Last year, a baby girl died at just 40 hours old from e.coli sepsis at Caithness General Hospital in Wick, sparking an investigation.

As a result, the threshold was lowered for expectant mothers to be transferred to the more wide-ranging paediatric facilities at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

And now, a report to be considered by health board members today, has recommended a permanent downgrade from a consultant-led service to a “midwife-led community maternity unit” in the Far North.

The proposals would see services at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness “strengthened” to provide 24-hour obstetric, neonatal and senior midwifery support.

If board members agree the proposals could be put in place as soon as Thursday.

Members of Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) a campaign group which includes concerned parents, are travelling from Wick to Inverness for the meeting to ask members to delay making a decision for one month to allow questions to be answered.

Nicola Sinclair, a mother and secretary of Chat, said: “A lot of risk factors haven’t been properly addressed or explained so we are asking for a month to get round the table and discuss the concerns that we have, rather than pushing it through too quickly in the face of massive public objection.

“There is serious concern about this, that needs to be addressed.”

She said that people want to know what would happen in a situation when a mother at Caithness General requires an emergency cesarean section.

Ms Sinclair said: “We understand that the recommendation is that an emergency section would ideally be carried out within 30 minutes.

“The average transfer time is two hours 14 minutes. If a low risk pregnancy, where the birth had been allowed to go ahead at Caithness General, suddenly becomes an emergency, what happens to the mother and baby?

“So far the answer has been that they don’t get many emergency sections in low risk pregnancies. There have been two in the last year. In both cases they were operated very quickly by our consultants.

“There needs to be a lot more thought given to this.”

A few weeks ago Eilidh McIntosh from Thurso endured a “nightmare” ambulance journey south which ended with her having to give birth at Golspie.

As part of the general inquiry into the unit, the report considered two stillbirths and three neonatal deaths from 2010 to 2015 and concluded at least two of the deaths were “potentially avoidable”.

Chat chairman Bill Fernie said: “The board has allowed us to submit a statement to the meeting in Inverness. We agree that safety is the main issue but what they’re proposing is not the best way forward.”

He added: “They’ve jumped on the safety bandwagon to sidestep a proper consultation, making it very difficult to bring in other views.”

NHS Highland’s medical director Dr Roderick Harvey said: “Having identified real safety concerns, in my view we must move swiftly to address these concerns and that is the basis of my recommendations.”

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross SNP MSP Gail Ross said: “If we know what we’re working towards we can do so as a community. The interim solution cannot continue, we need clarity from NHS Highland about how we move forward and what’s being put in place.

“I’ll continue to support NHS Highland in their efforts to make the services safer for mothers and babies in Caithness and Sutherland – in memory of the babies that died – and to ensure it can never happen again.

“I completely understand why some people in the community feel NHS Highland have gone ahead with recommendations without proper public engagement.”