Mums-to-be face fly­ing hospi­tal trip

Mums face 100-mile he­li­copter jour­ney to give birth

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - Front Page - BY CALUM ROSS

High­land health chiefs have ad­mit­ted they may have to rely on the Coast­guard he­li­copter to take preg­nant women from Caith­ness to In­ver­ness when bad weather hits.

High­land health chiefs have ad­mit­ted they may have to rely on the Coast­guard he­li­copter to take preg­nant women from Caith­ness to In­ver­ness when bad weather hits.

The con­tin­gency plan emerged af­ter north MSP Ed­ward Moun­tain claimed the clo­sure of the A9 road on Thurs­day due to win­try con­di­tions should be a “wake-up call” to the NHS in the Caith­ness ma­ter­nity row.

It emerged this week that only 20% of ex­pec­tant mums were able to give birth at Caith­ness Gen­eral Hospi­tal last year be­cause of re­stric­tions in­tro­duced fol­low­ing the “po­ten­tially avoid­able” death of a baby girl in Wick in 2015.

The fig­ure rep­re­sented a huge drop from pre­vi­ous years, when about twothirds of moth­ers from the county had their ba­bies de­liv­ered lo­cally.

With more and more mums hav­ing to make the 100-mile jour­ney to Raig­more Hospi­tal, a se­ries of alarm­ing prob­lems have emerged in re­cent months, in­clud­ing am­bu­lances which were not prop­erly equipped, and par­ents hav­ing to make re­peated trips up and down the A9.

The bad weather this week, in­clud­ing the tem­po­rary clo­sure of the A 9 Dunbe a th snow gates, prompted High­lands and Is­lands MSP Ed­ward Moun­tain to raise con­cerns.

The Con­ser­va­tive said: “The snow gates were closed yes­ter­day and we know how quickly things can go badly wrong in these cases.

“There would be no air am­bu­lance avail­abil­ity. There’s no way to get them down ef­fec­tively to Raig­more if the snow gates are closed.

“I think it’s un­ac­cept­able. Last night was a wake-up call for NHS High­land to think about their plans for moth­ers when the bad weather hits.”

Re­spond­ing to the re­marks, an NHS High­land spokesman said last night that the Coast­guard he­li­copter could be used in such cir­cum­stances.

He said: “The coast­guard he­li­copter can be called in cases of emer­gency when road and air am­bu­lance are un­able to travel due to se­vere weather or when the road is blocked.

“In cases when we have had to use these con­tin­gency plans, there have been pos­i­tive out­comes for both mother and baby.

“In very bad con­di­tions, we would set up lo­cal emer­gency li­ai­son groups es­tab­lished in which case if any cases were deemed a med­i­cal emer­gency.”

“The coast­guard he­li­copter can be called in an emer­gency”

UP IN THE AIR: The coast­guard he­li­copter could be used to trans­port ex­pec­tant moth­ers to Raig­more in emer­gency cases

Ed­ward Moun­tain

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