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Birthing pool closure is ‘no overnight fix’ in latest blow to Moray maternity services

Dr Gray's Hospital
Dr Gray's in Elgin. Picture by Jason Hedges

The birthing pool at Dr Gray’s in Elgin has been shut down due to drainage issues which have reportedly been known about, but not resolved, since September.

Following a recent use of the pool, water flooded out into the corridor and into the theatre department on the floor below.

An update from NHS Grampian on Friday informed local politicians of the ongoing problem within the Elgin hospital.

Maternity services in Moray have been stretched since 2018, when staff shortages led to downgrades. The majority of the region’s babies are now born in Aberdeen as a result.

News of the birthing pool being out of use is the latest blow to services, which might not be fully restored until 2031.

‘Another option has been taken away’

Despite the health board claiming it is working on a solution to drainage issues, Moray MP Douglas Ross labelled this latest update “completely unacceptable”.

“I was absolutely astonished to discover that drainage issues that have affected the birthing pool at Dr Gray’s have been known about since September last year,” he said.

“This week the birthing pool has had to be shut down with seemingly no end in sight.

“This means another option for women in labour in Moray has been taken away from them. Surely if these issues have been known since last autumn something could have been done before now and avoided the need to remove this option in Moray.

“It is completely unacceptable that these issues have been known about for so long, yet there has been very little action to try and resolve them.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said Conservative-run councils won't introduce the Workplace Parking Levy
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

‘No cause identified so far’

A spokeswoman from NHS Grampian said the flooding of drain water was the reason behind the issue.

She said: “We are very sorry that the birthing pool at Ward 3 will not be available for use for the time being.

“There is a recurrent issue with flooding of drain water into Ward 3 Dr Gray’s Hospital. The birthing pool is part of the same water system and is situated in a room near to the affected shower.

“The last episode flooded into the corridor and into the theatre department one floor below so preventative action had to be taken.”

She added that keeping the birthing pool in use could pose a risk to patients.

Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. Picture by Jason Hedges

“Maintenance teams and contractors are investigating the cause of the flooding but no cause has been identified so far,” she said.

“The infection prevention and control team has recommended as a precautionary measure to reduce potential risk to patients, the theatres and the fabric of the building, the birthing pool and shower in question should remain out of use until the cause of the flooding is identified and corrected.

“This is not an overnight fix.”

A decade for full restoration of Dr Gray’s services

On March 30 this year, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced his plans to restore maternity services at Dr Gray’s.

He did not confirm a timescale for the plans at the time, but NHS Grampian has since said it could take up to a decade.

Mr Ross said the situation as it stands is “nothing short of disgraceful”, and that a 10-year wait “beggars belief”.

The NHS Grampian spokeswoman added that the birthing pool was part of investments in the hospital and that is was “unfortunate” it had to be shut off.

She added: “We apologise for any inconvenience. We know this doesn’t allow for all the options for women who wanted this as part of their birth plan, but we will keep you updated on progress as it happens.”

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