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Scottish Government to outline future of Moray’s maternity services after health secretary meets campaign group

Keep Mum campaigners Kirsty Watson and Marj Adams (right) spoke to the health secretary in Elgin. Picture by Jasperimage
Keep Mum campaigners Kirsty Watson and Marj Adams (right) spoke to the health secretary in Elgin. Picture by Jasperimage

The Scottish Government will outline the future of maternity services in Moray next week.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed he will make a statement on March 30 outlining the way forward.

It follows a review into maternity services at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, which was downgraded nearly four years ago, meaning expectant mums having their babies in Aberdeen or Inverness.

What did the review recommend?

The review recommendations published in December favoured emergency patients being sent to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness in the short term.

Ahead of his announcement, Mr Yousaf today met clinicians and officials from NHS Highland and NHS Grampian.

Consultant obstetricians and senior midwives told him Raigmore doesn’t have the facilities or staff to deal with extra births and needs new investment.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf visited Elgin to discuss maternity services.

He also spoke with campaigners who want Dr Gray’s restored as a consultant-led maternity unit.

The campaign group Keep Mum is calling for a “clear roadmap” to the restoration of consultant maternity services in Elgin.

Mr Yousaf said: “I am here today to reaffirm this government’s commitment to delivering the best care for expectant mothers in Moray that meets their needs and expectations, is safe for them and their babies and reintroduces consultant-led maternity services in Moray.

“This is an issue I take very seriously and recognise the need to set out the way forward as soon as possible.

“Everyone involved has the same goal – ensuring expectant mothers receive the best possible care as close to home as is possible.

Campaigners want clear plan

“Taking the time to get this right now will ensure that service can be delivered in the long term in a way that ensures the safety of mothers and babies at all times.”

Campaign group Keep Mum wants a clear plan with timescales on how the majority of Moray mothers can give birth in the area.

Marj Adams from the group said the health secretary listened carefully to their concerns.

She said: “We hope he reflects and comes to a decision that is beneficial for babies and mothers of Moray.

“Keep Mum is against the Inverness option for Moray women as it simply shifts the problem from Aberdeen to Inverness.

The maternity unit at Dr Gray’s Hospital was downgraded.

“We have 1,000 births a year which need to have a consultant ward.

“It has been almost four years since it was downgraded. NHS Grampian has achieved virtually nothing and allowed Dr Gray’s service to plummet and staff have left.

“We fully understand it is a challenging problem and rebuilding needs to start.

“We want a clear roadmap and milestones and how the service will be built up and who is responsible for it and when we can expect the majority of women giving birth in Moray.”

John Tomlinson, interim chairman of NHS Grampian, added:  “I am pleased that the health secretary shares our commitment to ensuring expectant mothers receive the best possible care.”

Moray MP Douglas Ross said there had been “growing frustration” at the lack of action taken to address the situation.

Maternity statement ‘crucial’

He said next week’s statement will be crucial.

Mr Ross said: “The testimony we heard from so many Moray families that have been affected by the downgrading of the unit were troubling and distressing and crystallise the need to have a full consultant-led maternity unit available for women and families in Moray once again.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said today’s visit showed that the health secretary is listening to the local community.

He added: “The representatives certainly provided a unified voice calling for a focus on the reinstatement of a consultant led maternity service at Dr Gray’s.”

Last month Alexandra Naylor told how she was forced to give birth in a lay-by due to the maternity unit issue.

Mrs Naylor had originally planned to have her baby at Dr Gray’s Hospital, but during labour she was deemed “high risk” and transferred to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

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