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MSP Rhoda Grant: The Health Secretary is not 'hearing' what maternity services campaigners are saying but he must back up his own words that safe maternity care as close to home as possible is vital

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Rhoda Grant
MSP Rhoda Grant

It’s lovely to see the days become longer and the flowers appear highlighting the beginning of Spring, even the lambing snow heralds the spring and summer.

Recently on one of the exceptionally sunny days I visited Rosemarkie. As it was a hot day, it was a wonderful opportunity to see how busy the town can get. I met with campaigners who are fighting to see the speed limit change on the High Street from 30mph to 20mph. This is a campaign I support, making busy streets safer for pedestrians.

As welcoming as Rosemarkie is, it’s easy to see that the streets cannot handle the influx of traffic and I will continue to help push to see that this speed limit is lowered in the hope that it becomes a safer area for everyone – especially on those sunny days where everyone is looking to have a good time.

Many of you may have been following the announcement that a consultant led maternity services will be reinstated at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin with Raigmore Hospital being used in the short-term – with money to expand.

While I welcome this promise to reinstate these services in Dr Gray’s and the much-needed investment at Dr Gray’s and Raigmore, I cannot welcome this so-called short-term option.

The Cabinet Sectary tells us he is listening to what those involved are telling him, but he is obviously not hearing what they say. Clinicians have said that this option is not feasible given timescales and ultimately it will put babies at risk. He must reconsider or clarify what he is going to do in the short term to keep mums safe.

Additionally, while it is good news that Mr Yousaf has pledged to meet Caithness health campaigners, the question remains whether the Scottish Government will bring obstetric and paediatric services back to Wick. I hope so – especially after hearing Mr Yousaf say that safe maternity care as close to home as possible is vital.

Last month Audit Scotland issued an update on the Scottish Government’s R100 programme to provide high quality internet across Scotland. It shows that only 0.2 per cent of R100 main contract eligible premises in the North of Scotland have been connected. A huge let down for rural communities.

Scottish Labour has told Scottish Government since 2007 that rollout needed to start with the rural areas first but typically the SNP government chose to leave them to the end. Now, years later, many rural areas still struggle to get anywhere near acceptable speeds.

If we've learnt anything in the last two years it's that reliable connectivity is a necessity, not a luxury.

Lastly, I wish to thank everyone who contributed to my Right to Food consultation. This is now closed and all responses will be analysed and published.

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