The children’s ward at an Elgin hospital has been stripped bare and moved to accommodate more elderly admissions as the service heads into its busiest season.
Usually located in ward 2 at Dr Gray’s Hospital, the unit will now be positioned beside the emergency department swapping with the acute medical assessment service as officials look to combat the expected increase in older patients being admitted there over the winter months.
The move has been met with some controversy, as the children’s ward was furnished with child-friendly decor and imaginative, colourful laminated flooring funded by local people who helped fundraise for the Moray Friends of Archie group.
They raised £142,000 but now the painted wall murals have been removed, alongside the flooring.
General Manager of Dr Gray’s Hospital, Alasdair Pattinson said that the relocation of the wards was due to the need for more room to treat “older, medical, acute admissions.”
Rosalyn Wie (Administrator for Moray Dance) at Elgin Community Centre with a Ballet class.
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He said: “What we are experiencing at the moment, and have experienced for a long time is a high volume of older, medical, acute admissions and that’s population driven really and we have ran out of space for these patients on a regular basis.
“The paediatric ward originally had 13 beds up in ward 2, it was never fully occupied and the team always felt they needed a slightly smaller space to work in because it was really just too big for them.
“We have spoken to ARCHIE about this and we did appreciate there were some sensitivities around the fundraising that had been done. ARCHIE is keen to work with us going forward whether or not it stays where it is on a temporary basis or moves back.”
The children’s ward moving to beside the Emergency Department will also allow junior doctors working there to split their time between both units.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead hit out at NHS Grampian for its “insensitive” handling of the relocation.
He said: “Just when we thought that management were beginning to improve relationships, the management drafted in from Aberdeen dismantled and discarded the wonderful children’s ward that had benefited from charitable fundraising.
“Their handling of this was crass and insensitive. If the move of the children’s ward was temporary why ensure there is no ward to move back into?”