The campaign to restore Moray’s maternity services could be debated in Holyrood.
MSP Karen Adam, who represents Buckie as part of her Banffshire and Buchan constituency, is seeking a cross-party debate on the campaign to restore the consultant-led service at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.
The service was scaled down at the hospital in June 2018 due to a staffing crisis, meaning most mums-to-be now forced to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth.
Campaign group Keep Mum has been pushing for it to be urgently reinstated, and now Ms Adam has thrown her support behind the effort by calling for the matter to be discussed at parliament.
Review will consider views of maternity staff and Moray community
In March, then Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced an independent review had been commissioned to look at how services at Dr Gray’s can be restored to full strength.
But Ms Adam believes the issue must remain in the spotlight, and has lodged her first motion since being elected earlier this month to call for the debate.
She said: “This situation has undoubtedly caused alarm and upset to parents and families at a time when stress and mental wellbeing is of concern as we recover from the pandemic.
“The work of the Keep Mum campaign has been invaluable in voicing their concern over the temporary decision by NHS Grampian to downgrade maternity services in Moray.”
Keep Mum welcomed the move and said it was “brilliant” to have Ms Adams’ support.
In a statement online, the group said: “Lots of women from Banffshire support the Keep Mum campaign. Many of them opted to give birth in Dr Gray’s Hospital, Elgin prior to the downgrade.
“We absolutely welcome everything that Karen is calling for and we know that she’ll be working closely with Richard Lochhead MSP.”
Debate would send ‘powerful message’ about need for service
It is understood that a decrease in birth totals in Moray are a direct result of the maternity services downgrade.
During 2020 there were just 178 births at Dr Gray’s, a fall of 102 in 2019, while 714 were born in Aberdeen, an increase of 96 the previous year.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead – who last week invited new Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to visit Elgin to discuss the restoration of services – added: “I’m really pleased to see Karen getting straight to work to support women and families served by Dr Gray’s and the fact that this issue looks set to be debated so early in the new parliamentary term sends a powerful message about the strength of feeling in our local communities over the changes to maternity services in Moray.
“The restoration of our consultant-led service is a priority for people in both of our constituencies and we need NHS Grampian to work with the local community and the Scottish Government to ensure the long term future of our consultant-led maternity unit – it is vital for women and families locally and is key to ensuring that Moray remains an attractive place for people to live and work.
“I would urge MSPs from across the north of Scotland to support Karen’s motion so we can have this debate as soon as possible.”