John O Groat Journal headlines for December 24, 2014

A SCHOOLBOY who needed an emergency operation, had his life saved by a surgeon at Caithness General Hospital. Liam Morrison, 12, was rushed to theWick hospital after suffering from several abdominal pains and his mother Kathleen is convinced her son would not be here, if it was not for the nurses, doctors and surgeons there.

HEALTH services at Caithness General Hospital must not tbe undermined but built up and expanded. That is the plea from local MSP Rob Gibson who says such a scenario would be the best Christmas present for the hospital.

TWO Caithness patients, who were due to have operations at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, had the procedures postponed due to a lack of beds. That was confirmed by NHS Highland after the matter was raised by the John O' Groat Journal.

THE countdown for the Fly the Flag for Caithness competition has begun, with judges set to meet next month to finalise details of how it is to be run. In November, North of Scotland Newspapers won its campaign for Caithness to become the first mainland county in Scotland to have its own official flag, after securing the endorsement of Highland Council.

WORKERS heading off from home in the early morning, could be faced with ungritted roads next winter. As part of council budget cuts, more than 600 miles of major roads - excluding the trunk routes such as the A9 - will not receive a pre-treatment of salt in the evenings when icy conditions are forecast overnight.

COUNCIL bosses have pledged to clamp down on staff sick leave after workers in Highland took more than 65,000 days off in the previous financial year. The agency and supply teaching staff bill is to be slashed by nearly 700,000 under new plans. Back-to-work interviews and intervenions by occupational therapists are among the tools that will be used to drive the numbers down.
EIGHT local charities have been enjoying their share of just under 1000 that has been raised for them by Canisbay youngsters. The primare school decided to spend a year not doing any national fundraisers such as Comic Relirf or Children in Need, but chose instead to support local groups.