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Channel 4 highlights human rights concerns of Caithness women facing 2.5 hour journey to give birth

The A9 from Wick and Thurso to Inverness is a long road, even at the best of times.

I’ve travelled it in all weathers. In the Summer of 1980 as my parents went to the Royal Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the depths of an icy 1984 Winter to my Grandma’s funeral in Inverness.

Even though they have made the hairpin bend on the Berriedale Braes a bit easier and the Dornoch Bridge has cut off a good half hour from the journey, it’s still a long and twisty road.

Definitely not one you would want to be driving along in any stage of labour.

I had to travel about 12 miles by car in the early stages of labour and I can promise you not one bit of that was pleasant. I could not contemplate the thought of setting off from Wick to Inverness at a windy 4 am. And let me tell you the wind in Caithness is a special thing, a lazy wind as an elderly friend of the family used to call it because it went right through you rather than go round you.

But that’s exactly what women in Caithness have had to face ever since the maternity unit at Caithness General Hospital in Wick was downgraded to midwife led in 2016. The alternative to the long drive in labour is being sent to Raigmore to be induced 2 weeks before your due date. And of course induction leads to more intervention than might have been necessary. Imagine the return trip when you’ve just had a caesarean section or a lot of stitches. If you are not wincing at that thought, I have no words.

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