Highlands & Islands

Campaigner calls for island-style health care for Caithness

Caithness Image copyright Google
Image caption Caithness makes up a large part of the north Highlands

Health services in Caithness should be delivered in the same way as they are on Scotland's large islands, a campaigner has said.

Ron Gunn said the county should be able to cater for most medical needs because it can be cut off in bad weather, as it was earlier this week.

A lorry jack-knifed on the A9 and train services were disrupted in Caithness during wintry conditions on Thursday.

NHS Highland has defended its work to redesign services to rural areas.

For months, campaigners in Caithness and also on Skye have been calling on the health board to abandon planned redesigns and instead enhance existing levels of services.

'Keep services local'

Mr Gunn, of Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT), said the disruption to travel in his area on Thursday had reinforced this call.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "I was speaking to a lady who was due to see a specialist in Caithness General and she got a phone call to tell her it had been cancelled due to the fact the specialist could not get up the A9.

"We cannot get down and whoever cannot get up towards us.

"We are very, very keen to keep as much services local as possible. If roads are blocked we are basically an island."

NHS Highland's chairman, David Alston, said the health board was investing in rural areas.

He said: "I think people have the right to the same level of service, but it has to be delivered in a different way. You cannot lift a model from an urban area and think you can place that in a rural area."

Mr Alston said redesigning services would mean care and treatments being delivered locally and in a way that was "sustainable for the future".

He added: "I think the proof of that is the major investment in a new hospital on Skye and in Badenoch and Strathspey."

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