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Dr Gray’s Hospital: Health campaigners encouraged by ‘positive’ talks about restoration of consultant maternity services

Keep Mum's Kirsty Watson encouraged by talks between MSP Richard Lochhead and  health secretary Jeane Freeman.
Keep Mum's Kirsty Watson encouraged by talks between MSP Richard Lochhead and health secretary Jeane Freeman.

Health campaigners in Elgin are encouraged by “positive” talks held between Moray’s MSP and Scotland’s health secretary about the restoration of consultant maternity services at Dr Gray’s Hospital.

Campaign group Keep Mum has urged Jeane Freeman to intervene to ensure a full strength maternity service is restored at the hospital after the health secretary held talks with MSP Richard Lochhead.

The Elgin maternity unit was downgraded nearly three years ago amid a staffing crisis which resulted in many women being transferred to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth.

NHS Grampian stresses their commitment

In August 2018, Mrs Freeman asked NHS Grampian to come up with a plan to restore their consultant maternity unit.

And last month, NHS Grampian chief executive Caroline Hiscox stressed she was “absolutely committed” to establishing a “safe and sustainable” maternity service in Elgin.

Jeane Freeman.

Plea to health secretary

The Keep Mum group’s spokeswoman Kirsty Watson said: “We are very glad to hear that Richard Lochhead MSP has shared the concerns of Keep Mum and others with the Health Secretary.

“We are encouraged by the news that they had a positive and constructive meeting and we very much look forward to the Health Secretary’s intervention as soon as she is able to provide this.

“Given the lack of commitment from NHS Grampian to restore a consultant led maternity service in Moray, we urge Jeane Freeman to intervene and tell the board that the absolute bottom line is that Elgin must have a consultant led maternity service so that nearly all of the 1000 births a year take place in Elgin.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

‘More urgency needed’

Mr Lochhead has said the health secretary has promised to write to him in the “next week or two” to outline the next steps.

“I conveyed my view and that of Keep Mum, and the many constituents who have contacted me, that we need far more urgency from NHS Grampian and a clear, credible plan and a timetable for the restoration of the service, to ensure the vast majority of women in Moray are once again able to have their babies delivered locally and not have to travel to Aberdeen,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Tories have argued the meeting failed to give locals “much confidence” about consultant maternity services being restored.

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