This is an accessibility issue for all NHS services for Caithness users. When a road is closed (as it frequently is by weather or traffic incident or mental health bridge incident) then access to NHS is affected. Not only missed appointments but I’ve also been stuck getting home and had to return to Thurso via Lairg & Altnaharra - no joke! Throughout my experience as a living kidney donor I had to insist on Near Me appointments or giving blood samples etc locally in Caithness wherever possible. This was not the default situation and it saved me (and the NHS) many hundreds of miles and days of lost work. Obviously sometimes we NEED a face to face or we NEED to travel (I was very happy to travel to Edinburgh for access to the specialist transplant team) but often we don’t. This applies to almost everything we might access at Raigmore but also applies to GP appointments. Near Me is fantastic. We should use it more. And Caithness General is also fantastic. We should use it more two. The Dunbar Hospital minor incident unit was amazing but seems to be closed / impossible to access these days. Local care wherever it’s possible please, including tests in preparation for consultants further afield. THINK before you ask ANYONE to travel anywhere! NHS Highland appears to be stuck on autopilot asking us to attend in person at Raigmore. And like sheep we just go. It’s time to rethink this madness.
We used to have a two second to none hospitals in the county and should again. With aging populations and folk moving up here during covid our health care system needs an overhaul, bring back services to local regions. We are going to experience a tragedy on the roads due to the conditions, road being closed, the amount of accidents and HNS highland will be responsible as they make people travel in all conditions due to fear of missing an appointment and having to reschedule which could take months.
Travel comes with a host of issues. It isn't bestart for babies, the recommended time for a newborn to sit in a car seat is 30mins. People travelling after surgeries are higher risk of blood clots. Then you have to look at the financial impacts on people. To go 100+ miles for an appointment you need to have money in the first place! Then if you need to stayover that is a huge financial impact. Inverness is the most expensive city to stay. You get 17p per mile back for fuel and £50 for accommodation. Deduction for working. That covers nothing. When you have a long term health condition travelling is extremely tiring and can exhaust you for days afterwards.
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