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.

Shadow Conservatives health minister says now is time for ‘rethink’ of services across Highlands and Moray

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.

The Scottish Conservatives’ shadow health minister believes it is time to “step back and rethink” how health services are run across Moray and the Highlands.

Concerns have been raised in recent years about declining maternity services in Elgin, Lochaber and Caithness with families forced to endure longer journeys for births.

Meanwhile, doubts persist over the future of some community hospitals due to staffing concerns in rural areas.

Yesterday the Scottish Government stressed all NHS boards were required to keep services under regular review while a new hospital opened in Orkney in 2019 with more facilities under construction in Broadford on Skye and Aviemore.

‘Urgent review needed of all Highlands health services’

Donald Cameron believes “sticking plasters” are no longer viable, instead calling for an urgent review of all facilities across the north.

The Highlands and Islands MSP said: “It’s quite clear to me that we need to step back and decide what kind of health service is required for communities in the north of Scotland.

“If communities are to be sustainable, local people require assurances that the treatment they require will be close to home.

Leanchoil Hospital in Forres was closed in 2018.

“People in remote locations in the Highlands and islands have always understood that they may have to travel, especially for specialist treatment.

“But towns like Forres, Elgin, Wick, Thurso, and Fort William are not remote locations and people need a properly functioning general hospital with an adequate range of services that is within reach.”

Mr Cameron believes many community hospitals have proven their worth during the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing vaccination programme.

Many across the north face an uncertain future with the Leanchoil Hospital in Forres closing in 2018 with campaigners currently plotting an alternative future for the building.

There has also been service reductions in Dufftown and Aberlour while the NHS has longer-term aims of treating more people at home.

Maternity doubts putting ‘enormous pressure’ on health services

Mr Cameron believes maternity services across the Highlands are essential as part of any health services rethink.

His comments come just days after Moray mothers were prevented from travelling to Aberdeen to give birth due to road closures as a result of winter weather.

Mr Cameron said: “Whether it’s travelling from Lochaber to Raigmore simply for a routine scan, or needing to go the 75 miles from Moray to Aberdeen to give birth since Dr Gray’s in Elgin was downgraded, the current set up creates additional anxiety for many expectant parents.

NHS Grampian urged to review Moray maternity services after A96 is closed due to snow

“The situation is also putting enormous pressure on NHS staff and the ambulance service.

“It’s not uncommon for midwives to end up travelling in ambulances with women in the last stages of labour, being followed by anxious relatives, at night along wintry roads in danger of closure because of snow and ice.

“How on earth, can that make sense?”

Work already underway on reviewing rural health services

The Scottish Government has stressed all NHS boards are required to ensure services meet national guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Best Start North initiative to examine the development of sustainable maternity services across the NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and island regions will resume again in the spring after being paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman added: “We also continue to work with the maternity transport group as part of the Best Start programme, which examines transport of pregnant women and newborn babies.

“As part of that expert group’s work, specific consideration is also being given to the pathways and protocols for remote and rural transfer across Scotland.

“Clearly, a major focus over the last year has been on the emergency response to the pandemic, and NHS staff in the Highlands and Island – as across the whole of Scotland –  have shown magnificent commitment and professionalism throughout.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in