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Maternity campaign heads to Holyrood with 5,000-strong petition

Caithness health campaigners and examples of the cows sent to politicians.
Caithness health campaigners and examples of the cows sent to politicians.

Highland health campaigners are heading to Holyrood with a 5,000-signature petition demanding better services.

The Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) hopes to rally political support for its continued fight against maternity services reform. The petition will be handed to Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison next week.

The group has launched a publicity event dubbed “mooternity.com” and sent symbolic plastic cows to each MSP.

Chat secretary Nicola Sinclair said: “Under EU law, it’s illegal to transport heavily pregnant or labouring livestock or newborn calves. It’s ironic that livestock should be protected against taxing journeys when Caithness mothers aren’t shown the same courtesy.”

Paul Davidson, clinical director for Caithness General Hospital, said the decision to switch from a consultant-led service to a “community” midwife-led unit was made on “clear grounds of safety.”

He added: “The review was prompted because of the death of baby and changes had to be made.”

In 2015, NHS Highland lowered the threshold for sending expectant mothers to Raigmore after the “potentially avoidable” death of a baby girl from the e.coli sepsis infection 40 hours after being born in Wick. A growing number of expectant mothers has since been sent on a 100-mile journey to Raigmore.

Wick mother-of-three Jenna Larnach yesterday called for a review of the ambulance service after waiting more than two hours for one to take her unresponsive, epileptic six-year-old son to Raigmore.

Her son Kaysan suffered a seizure at school. Diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015, he had been in a postictal state – an altered state of consciousness.

Miss Larnach, a care assistant, said: “He was grey in colour. I was really panicky, sitting waiting two and a half hours for an ambulance from the moment we left the doctor.”

Kath Jones, NHS Highland clinical director for north and west, said not all seizures were considered emergencies.

“I would, of course, be happy to investigate further if the family would like to provide details,” she added.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We received a call from a GP in Wick at 4.03pm on January 10 for a non-emergency transfer to hospital within two hours.  An ambulance arrived at the patient’s home address at 6.07pm and transferred the patient safely to Raigmore Hospital.”

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