I have written to NHSH asking them to clarify their contingency plans for women expected to travel to Raigmore Hospital to give birth in adverse weather conditions. Below is the response I received -
"Adverse weather warnings come out from Peter MacPhee (NHS Highland Emergency Planning Officer) and are distributed out to midwifery teams as they come in. The Midwife Team Leads are very diligent at keeping up with local information re road gritting etc - as they themselves are out driving in winter conditions undertaking home visits.
With regard to information given to all pregnant women living in remote and rural areas they will be advised to make contact with midwife early, as soon as they have signs of labour, especially if weather is a concern and they have a long distance to travel.
Advised to check weather reports and road conditions and if unable to travel or are concerned about the journey would advise them to contact local midwife first, who could meet them at CMU and manage from there. Depending on the circumstances, and if safe do so they may need to sit tight and be managed at local unit until weather clears. However if urgent transfer required then SAS would be contacted to organise quickest transfer out and if necessary they would contact coastguard helicopter).
If a woman is at home and unable to travel (if emergency situation) - again SAS would be called to respond.
If a woman is en route and weather deteriorates or road blocked, midwives advise women if there is any concern or emergency when they are en route to hospital, they should call 999. We have had SAS meet women & partners when they are en route, to support at unplanned birth or to transfer onto hospital.
On top of all this are very bad conditions, we would have Local Emergency Liaison Groups established in which case if any cases were deemed a medical emergency, any appropriate asset would be deployed to assist such as snow ploughs, gritters, 4X4 assets, Red Cross, Coast Guard, with each case being carefully and individually managed. The most likely in extreme weather is the Coastguard."
I will continue to push to ensure pregnant women in Caithness are as safe as possible.