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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 March, 2004, 18:25 GMT
Marchers condemn maternity plans
Caithness General Hospital
The plan is to change the maternity unit
More than 2,000 people have marched through Wick in a protest over plans to downgrade the town's maternity unit.

Politicians urged campaigners to keep fighting a review which recommends the establishment of a midwife-led unit at Caithness General Hospital.

They said lives of mothers and babies will be threatened if they have to be taken to Inverness in an emergency.

NHS Highland is consulting over the replacement of the consultant-led service with a midwife-led service.

In his report into the service, Professor Andrew Calder said it was "virtually impossible" to sustain the current service at the hospital due to impending changes in employment law and contractual requirements, and because of the scarcity of consultant obstetricians.

He said the situation was the same for other maternity units across Scotland.

Inquiry call

Campaigners made their feelings known when they gathered at the front of the hospital for the Mother's Day protest.

Thirty-five-year-old mother Barbara Kennedy, from Dunnet, said the downgrading would spell disaster for the area.

Another mother Eswyl Fell, from Wick, described the downgrading as unthinkable.

Pipers led demonstrators on a march from the hospital to Market Square.

Scottish National Party Highland MSP Rob Gibson has called for an inquiry into the impact downgrading the unit would have on the area.

NHS board backs maternity cuts
16 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Report queries rural baby units
10 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Fears over north maternity cover
15 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Minister backs maternity changes
20 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Reprieve for Highland baby unit
03 Aug 01  |  Scotland

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