The Duke of Rothesay visits Caithness General Hospital

HIS Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay today visited Caithness General Hospital in W ick to mark the 25th anniversary of the facility, which was officially opened by his grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The hospital, which serves Caithness and much of Sutherland, became operational in November 1986 and the official opening ceremony was held in August 1987.
On arriving at the hospital, The Duke was greeted by The Lord Lieutenant of Caithness, Anne Dunnett, who presented him to local dignitaries before he was accompanied into the hospital by NHS Highland Locality General Manager for Caithness, Pauline Craw.
Mrs Craw introduced His Royal Highness to Colin Punler, who is Chair of North Highland Community Health Partnership (CHP) and a Non Executive Director of NHS Highland; Clinical Nurse Manager, Pam Garbe; CHP Support Manager, Kay Oswald; and CHP Clinical Lead and Consultant Surgeon, Paul Fisher.
She then took The Duke on a tour of the hospital starting at the CT Scanner Suite, where he had an opportunity to speak to radiography staff about the work they carry out in the unit.
A CT (computerised tomography) scanner is a special kind of X-ray machine used in the diagnosis and treatment planning of many conditions including stroke, brain injuries and cancer. The introduction of this service at CGH in August 2008 has saved patients needing to make the 200-mile round trip to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for CT scans.
The Duke then stopped off at the WRVS shop, where he met WRVS volunteers and domestic cleaning staff, on his way to the hospital’s Renal Unit, where he met patients undergoing dialysis. He was also shown the video link, which enables kidney patients to have a consultation with their consultant in Inverness without the need for the patient or the consultant to make the journey.
His next stop was at the Physiotherapy Gym where he was able to watch part of a class, which helps patients with Cardio Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) to gain confidence and improve their quality of life.
His Royal Highness was also shown the Occupational Therapy Kitchen before being taken through the Queen Elizabeth Rehabilitation Unit, which is named after his grandmother.
The Duke met staff working in each of the areas he visited and was introduced to Medical Laboratory Assistant, Margaret Jones, who started her career with the NHS 50 years ago.
Mrs Craw then took him to the hospital dining room where he was able to meet more members of staff and signed the visitor book before his departure.
Mrs Craw said: “We are absolutely delighted that Prince Charles took time out of his holiday at the Castle of Mey to visit us. It seemed an appropriate way to mark the 25th anniversary of the hospital that was opened by his grandmother. We are very pleased that the royal link is being maintained.”
Mr Fisher said staff were delighted that The Duke was able to visit Caithness General Hospital as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations.
He said: “Over that time period, there have been many important medical and technological developments within the hospital and it provides a service to the community of Caithness and Sutherland of which the staff and the public can be very proud.
“His Royal Highness is well known for his support of the area and this was a good opportunity for him to see these advances."
And Mr Punler said: "A visit like this gives everyone a real lift. Patients are thrilled to get a royal visitor and it impresses on staff just how much everyone values the tremendous service they continue to give the community."