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. 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.

Claims that NHS Highland buried consultant’s concerns about maternity unit

Emma Edwards
Emma Edwards

Health campaigners and a whistle blowing doctor claim his concerns about controversial changes maternity care in Caithness were “buried” by his bosses at NHS Highland.

Consultant obstetrician Dr James Bingham raised serious concerns regarding the safety of the proposed new maternity model, with midwives in charge, in the months before it was given the go-ahead.

The midwife-led Community Maternity Unit was set up in December 2016, and today 91% of Caithness mothers are travelling to Inverness to give birth, where the consultants are based.

Dr Bingham, who works at Raigmore Hospital, has provided Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) with documents which show he raised serious concerns about the new model in November 2016.

While he agrees that they cannot keep consultants at Caithness because of the staffing problems in rural areas, Dr Bingham writes that, “the geographic distance and transfer times between Caithness and Raigmore is greater than that considered to be safe for a primary birthing unit”.

He continues: “The risks of a rapid, unstructured and inadequately planned transition carried considerable risk that has not been evaluated properly.”

The difficulties with the long journey from Caithness to Inverness were highlighted in September 2016 when Emma Edwards from Wick had her baby daughter’s head sliced during a ceaseran section at Raigmore. The mother’s waters broke in the car on the way to Inverness.

Dr Bingham points out that after the review of maternity services was completed, there was a very short time-scale for the changes to be implemented, suggesting the plans were considered “a fait accompli”.

He stated his concerns in writing to NHS bosses and the Scottish Government.

But Dr Bingham said the NHS Highland Board discussed his concerns in private – and later at a meeting two doctors stated “there are no clinical objections” to the proposal.

Members of Chat have now presented the documents to the Scottish Government and called for the suspension of the NHS Highland Board and an independent inquiry into the healthcare model at Caithness and clinical governance at NHS Highland.

Councillor Nicola Sinclair, Chat founder, said: “We were horrified to read that NHS Highland not only failed to adequately respond to serious safety concerns raised by one of its own clinicians, but that it also appears to have ‘buried’ any evidence of his complaint.”

A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “On the maternity provision in Caithness, The Board of NHS Highland carefully considered a wide range of evidence and on that basis made their decision to transition to a mid-wife led community maternity unit.

“The evidence included an  external independent review by specialist obstetricians and paediatricians as well as our own public health review. There were inevitably numerous clinical discussions, with various views expressed before any paper with recommendations was brought to the meeting for a decision.”

He added that at the public board meeting no objections had been raised through a formal channel.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]