NHS Highland has been told by the public to rethink its adult health and social care shake-up in Wick.
It follows the result of a survey of residents’ views on the proposal to create a centralised hub based on the site of Pulteney House care home.
While backing the concept, residents came out heavily in favour of the Town and County Hospital being used as the base.
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And strong resistance was registered to moving the town’s medical centre into the new hub.
Respondents also asked the health board to include changes in the far north maternity service to be included in its current Caithness-wide
The survey was carried out by Caithness Health Action Team, which believes NHS Highland needs to start listening to what local people want.
Respondents backed the retention of Pulteney House by 362 to 47 and to keep the Town and County by 383 to 25.
But 260 wanted the hub to go to the hospital compared to 51 who wanted it at the care home.
They supported keeping the medical centre at its current site at the Riverside by a margin of 383 to 25.
And 393 supported the inclusion of maternity in the current review.
Chat chairman Bill Fernie said: “The Scottish Government are always pushing the need for communities to have a bigger say in how local services are delivered.
“So I think the health board will have a hard job pushing through proposals which are opposed by local people.”
Accusing the board of running the consultation ‘the wrong way round’, he said: “The board should not have come up with a preferred option until it had asked people what they wanted.
“Now the answers are coming out against what they want, they are in danger of being hoist by their own petard.”
Mr Fernie said people are also obviously keen for the board to review the impact of its decision to downgrade the baby unit at Wick.
“It’s been regularly raised at consultation meetings and board officials have said they note the concern.
“But it has never been addressed and I think it’s their view that the issue is done and dusted.
“They are simply not listening to the community.”
A NHS Highland said: “We have been very pleased with the amount of feedback we have received from across a wide range of meetings and that we have received around 1700 responses so far.
“We look forward to receiving the responses from Chat and appreciate the efforts they have taken to seek their own feedback.
“In addition, we have put in place a specific survey relating to the Riverview and Riverbank medical practices which will help inform discussions further.”
The spokesman said it would be wrong to pre-empt what any final recommendations to the board might be.