The new midwife lead at Dr Gray’s has credited the move to Moray for kick-starting her career after initially fearing there would be a lack of opportunities in a rural area.
Jacqui Keddie gave up working at a big hospital in London to move to the “little Elgin hospital” to be closer to family.
When the family relocated to the north-east in 1998 they initially thought it would just be for a year, but 25 years later they have now made it home.
Now Mrs Keddie is sharing her story to encourage others to consider taking up positions at Dr Gray’s as part of efforts to restore Moray maternity services, which will require nearly 100 new staff members.
Hopes upskilling opportunities will continue to improve
Mrs Keddie, who trained in Ayrshire, initially joined the NHS as a midwife but after moving to the north-east she has been developing her skills various positions.
Before being appointed as the midwifery lead for the Moray maternity service plan she was in NHS Grampians quality risk and governance team before becoming a labour ward coordinator in Aberdeen and then a community team leader in Moray.
She said: “I remember thinking ‘Why am I going to this little hospital?’ as I wasn’t sure if there would be many career opportunities further down the line.
“But it has been fantastic, with lots of training opportunities and making the most of chances to develop my career working across Grampian.
“Now that we have strong links with NHS Highland as well, I think those opportunities for colleagues to develop their skills in new ways will get even better.”
Bolstering Moray maternity services
Moray maternity services were downgraded in 2018 after short-term efforts to plug recruitment gaps reached crisis point.
NHS Grampian latest estimate on when a consultant-led service will be restored to Elgin is 2026.
A plan, which has been developed with NHS Highland and the Scottish Government, has set out a phased return, which will begin later this year with day assessment and antenatal care.
Elective caesarean births are expected to return in Elgin in 2025 with women expected to be offered the opportunity to give birth in Inverness, which is closer than Aberdeen, the same year following a refurbishment of Raigmore’s own maternity unit.
Mrs Keddie said: “Change doesn’t have to be scary. It’s daunting but I would rather jump in and get on board than worry about it.
“I love the fact no day is ever the same in midwifery, we get to meet incredible people and we see people both at their most vulnerable and their strongest.”