Two Highland health rallies show extent of unrest about rural health

25 October 2017

Labour’s Rhoda Grant says the Scottish Government needs to sit up and take notice as public unrest about the rural health service sweeps across the Highlands and Islands.

Two public health protests are being held at the weekend, one organised by CHAT in Caithness supporting Thurso’s Dunbar Hospital and Wick Town and County Hospital and the other by SOSNHS Skye.

“NHS Highland is taking the flak but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is being forced to make an “unprecedented scale” of budget savings over the next three years – cuts of £100million may be needed by 2020,” said Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands.

“These cuts come directly from the Scottish Government which could invest more in health services if they wanted to.

“People need to have confidence there are adequate health services on their doorstep, especially with the distance from centres such as Raigmore. Under pressure front-line staff need more support and need to see new ways of keeping rural health services meeting the needs of people in their areas.”

Although Mrs Grant is speaking at the Caithness rally, arranged before the Skye campaigners’ protest on the same day, she has been liaising with SOSNHS Skye about its concerns.

“I know the strength of feeling in Caithness and on Skye about changes being made to their health services and think it is time for Government to take action – which speaks louder than any warm words.

“Labour would do what the SNP has refused to do – use the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to protect public services and deliver a fairer country.”

“All the main parties have embraced austerity – only the Labour Party has vowed to end it.  So while other parties will join these rallies, only the Scottish Labour Party is putting forward a progressive alternative.”