A far north pensioner has told how she is forced to make a 200-mile round trip every month for a 15-minute hospital appointment.
Dorothy Anderson lives in Thurso – but has to make the marathon journey to Inverness’s Raigmore hospital for treatment.
The 79-year-old has been moved to deliver an emotional plea to the Scottish Government’s First Minister and Health Secretary to come and meet her in her Caithness home.
Mrs Anderson gets up at 5am once a month just to attend a 10 to 15-minute hospital appointment 100 miles away at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness – and the travelling is taking its toll.
She has myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease which gives her symptoms including droopy eye lids, double vision and shortness of breath.
Her video, posted on Facebook, has been viewed almost 30,000 times. It is hoped that other families will also come forward.
In the video Mrs Anderson, who has a tracheostomy, says: “I would like to ask Nicola Sturgeon and Shona Robison and Elaine Mead, would any of them be happy if their mother or granny travelled in a train for four and a half hours – or in a bus if it were to break down – to go for an appointment?
“I would like for any of them to come to my house at any time to have a chat. I would like to tell them my stories and let them see what I looked like a year ago.”
Her daughter and carer Susan Sutherland said the travelling is making the condition worse. Mrs Sutherland said: “It is tiring her out. It is absolutely flooring her.”
The monthly appointments can be to have her tracheostomy checked, see her neurologist or ear nose and throat specialist.
Mrs Anderson continues on the video: “I am one of the lucky ones because I have got a family but I know a lot of other people are on their own and I am fighting for them and for my grandchildren. They need a hospital and people are not going to come up here with their young families if there is not a decent hospital for 100 miles.”
Mrs Anderson praised the nurses, doctors and ambulance staff at Caithness General but feels the services are gradually being stripped away.
The health board is currently reviewing its services in Caithness.
Elaine Mead, NHS Highland’s chief executive, said she will be happy to meet Mrs Anderson, adding that they have just introduced a new video consulting system.
Labour’s shadow health minister, MSP David Stewart, offered to meet Mrs Anderson. He said: “It is a very moving appeal and brings home the strength of feeling in the community about the lack of health services in Caithness and the distance travelled for short appointments which can often only last a number of minutes.”