Health campaigners in Caithness are polling the public on staging a protest march against the latest NHS Highland cuts.
Recently, there have been cuts to the ambulatory care unit, leading to a reduction in renal, chemotherapy and medical infusion services.
Caithness General Hospital in Wick also lost its eye scanner after it was initially “borrowed” to replace the broken one at Raigmore, but then became a permanent decision.
In 2017, NHS Highland downgraded the maternity unit in Wick from obstetric to midwife-led, which has resulted in more than 90% of pregnant women – almost 200 – having to travel at least 100 miles to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness last year.
This led to a massive protest march with crowds of more than 2,000 taking part, including local politicians.
Bill Fernie, chairman of Chat (Caithness Health Action Team), said: “The people of Caithness are being treated like second class citizens.
“We are completely fed up with the way services in Caithness continue to be scrapped, despite promises by the NHS bosses that remote locations would benefit from an increase in services.
“The cuts are forcing thousands of people – from pregnant women, children and the elderly – to travel hundreds of miles for appointments, which is just not fair.”
Iain Stewart, CEO of NHS Highland, said “I met personally with Chat in July and agreed that we would aim to meet as many of its service wishes as we reasonably could. I am currently writing to the group today outlining the steps we have taken since then and reaffirming my commitment to working with local stakeholders to provide fair and equitable services for everyone in Caithness as well as across the whole of Highland and Argyll and Bute.”