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.

Health chiefs pledge to cut waiting times for far-north women

Caithness General Hospital
Caithness General Hospital

Health bosses say plans are in hand to cut the marathon waits women in the far north are having to endure for gynaecological treatment.

Local health watchdogs have been highlighting the plight faced by some who are having to live with daily pain, with one woman having waited two years for a hysterectomy.

They claim the service has been in decline since the maternity unit at Caithness General in Wick was downgraded in November 2016.

And they have accused the health board of intending to centralise its gynaecological service in Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, to the detriment of outlying areas.

While denying any such agenda, NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek concedes that waiting lists for gynaecology, as in other areas, have lengthened during the pandemic.

She pledged to apologise to patients who have been affected.

But she said plans have been drawn up to reduce waiting times by performing more operations in Caithness General, Dunbar Hospital in Thurso and Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie.

The health board has reinstated the regular clinics run by visiting consultants.

This, she said, would be for the benefit of patients from throughout the Highlands.

NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek

Mrs Dudek said: “Unfortunately, the gynaecological service, along with others, has been impacted by the pandemic and the availability of operating capacity and there has also been sickness absence in the consultant team.

“We are in the process of reviewing the job plan for all consultants and measures are in place to meet service demands across the NHS Highland sites.”

Mrs Dudek said that during the pandemic, the NHS has had to prioritise theatres for urgent and cancer patients, affecting other waiting times, and apologised for that.

In the meantime, Mrs Dudek said the health board has been advising primary care staff to refer urgent cases to its 24/7 on-call teams for any urgent queries, questions or concerns.

Caithness Health Action Team (Chat) claims many women are suffering both physically and mentally and believes the official waiting time figures significantly under-estimate the delays many are facing.

Secretary Maria Aitken said: “We were promised when the maternity unit was downgraded that gynaecology wouldn’t be affected but that is exactly what has happened.

“We are being contacted by women at their wit’s end who are telling us that they are in constant pain and that it is affecting their families, their work and their whole lives.

“They are telling us the uncertainty about when they are going to be seen is affecting their mental health and wellbeing.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]