Staffing problems are hampering efforts to improve healthcare at Moray’s flagship hospital causing a “knock-on effect” on the services provided, it was claimed yesterday.
Senior NHS Grampian staff met hospital managers in Elgin yesterday to discuss issues of concern for local residents, including waiting times, the recruitment of key medical staff, the provision of maternity and paediatric services and the long-term care of elderly people.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said it was clear from the meeting that there were also “considerable” financial pressures although he was reassured to hear that the health board was seeking “innovative solutions” to address these problems.
Mr Ross said: “There is no doubt that NHS Grampian is facing major challenges in Moray. I know that all these matters are of very great concern to local people who depend on these services and wish to see them provided locally in Moray. All too often people seeking treatment are having to travel to Aberdeen or waiting far longer than they should.”
The hospital in Elgin has been repeatedly hit with staffing blows in recent months.
Specialist overnight care for children was halted earlier this year after pressures put on a small number of staff proved to be unsustainable.
Some pregnant women have been transferred to Aberdeen’s maternity unit.
He said: “Unfortunately, it seems that workforce challenges remain acute and Dr Gray’s simply cannot recruit the people they would like. This inevitably means that there is a knock on effect on the service that can be provided.
“I quite understand that the safety of mums and babies must be the priority and that proper paediatric care must be in place which may mean that births have to take place elsewhere.
“But it is disappointing that we do not seem to be making progress because of problems of staffing. Moray is a great place to live, work and raise your family. All of us have a responsibility to get that message across.”
Mr Ross said he was reassured to learn that real progress had been made with eye clinic waiting times at the hospital due to new facilities and procedures being put in place.
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “This was a useful opportunity to speak to those representing Moray at both a Scottish and UK level. There was a wide ranging discussion on a number of issues, including the ongoing staffing challenges at Dr Gray’s.
“We remain committed to developing a safe and sustainable solution to these issues and welcome the support of all elected representatives.”