Fewer pregnant Moray women will be forced to travel to Aberdeen after the restoration of on-call consultant obstetricians at an Elgin hospital.
Previously, mums-to-be who were worried about their pregnancy or unwell in the evening would only have the option of seeing a midwife at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
However, new arrangements have been made that will ensure consultant obstetricians will now be on-call to offer advice, support and assess patients up until 10pm.
Sue Swift, Divisional Manager for the Women and Children’s Service at Dr Gray’s Hospital, said: “We are working hard to reintroduce as many services as possible at Dr Gray’s for pregnant women.
“The additional on-call cover by local obstetricians means that, in the evening, we can perform a range of additional assessments and tests at Dr Gray’s itself.
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“In many cases, this will help prevent people from having to go to Aberdeen for further medical review.
“Combined with the reintroduction of caesarean sections for low risk births at the end of the year, these additional services mean that more and more women are now being seen at Dr Gray’s.
“That is welcome progress and we’ll continue to reintroduce further services where it is safe to do so.”
The reintroduction of these combined services forms part of an action plan being designed by NHS Grampian to provide a sustainable Women and Children’s service at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
Moray MP Douglas Ross welcomed the latest progress.
He said: “This is a good step forward in the NHS action plan towards the return of a full women and children’s service, which we need to see as soon as possible.
“Travelling through to Aberdeen in an emergency situation is just not acceptable.
“We have been lucky so far this winter, with no major issues on the A96, but winter is far from over.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead also hailed this restoration as a “step forward” for the service.
He said: “This is a step forward which I hope will be of some comfort to women in Moray who may have been worried about problems arising during their pregnancy.
“I am meeting with the interim chief executive of NHS Grampian this week to get an update on progress and I will be urging her to pull out all the stops to ensure that the services continue to be stepped up and that a consultant led service resumes as soon as possible.”
Kirsty Watson, from maternity campaign group Keep Mum said:
“It’s slightly more reassuring now that women will have further expertise on-hand but it doesn’t change the fact that they have to travel to Aberdeen for treatment.
“There is still no timescale for when a consultant-led service will be restored and we have been told there won’t be until spring.”