NHS Grampian has confirmed plans are in motion to reinstate maternity services at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin following a four-year absence.
Maternity services were downgraded in Moray since 2018 due to staffing pressures.
Expectant mothers have since been forced to travel more than 60 miles to Aberdeen, with some women giving birth at the side of the A96 Elgin to Aberdeen road.
Around 75% of all births have been referred to either Aberdeen or Inverness since services in Elgin were downgraded.
Local representatives have been calling on healthcare officials and the Scottish Government to step in and resolve the untenable situation.
NHS Grampian chief executive Caroline Hiscox has now confirmed in an open letter that discussions have begun to implement an interim plan for maternity services in Moray.
Moray maternity services should be safe, sustainable and future-proof.
She wrote: “This is one of our highest priorities, and I want to reassure you that we are committed to the delivery of an obstetric-led service in Elgin.
“It is also one of our biggest challenges, and I understand the level of concern and anxiety in the community about the delivery of this service.”
She went on the write that while discussions have started, the solutions to the problems at Dr Gray’s “will not happen overnight”.
The end goal is to provide maternity services in Moray that are “not only safe and sustainable but future-proofed”.
“Over the past weeks, we and our colleagues in NHS Highland have been finalising plans for the interim networked model, and plans for the consultant-led unit will be published by the end of this year.
“We are working very hard to improve our engagement, and communications on this issue and all stakeholders are invited to be part of our communication & engagement group.”
Commenting on the open letter published today, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This is welcome news and I look forward to hearing more on these plans when more details become available at the end of the year.
“I’m pleased that this issue is of high priority to NHS Grampian however, they have been sending conflicting messages.
“They state that this issue is a high priority but they have not been following that through with clear communication to the public, community groups and elected representatives and I hope that improves moving forward.”
NHS Grampian is due to meet with local officials and campaign groups including Maternity Voices Partnership and Keep MUM on Friday.
The health board will unveil the new interim plan for Dr Gray’s, which will hopefully bring an end to the uncertainty surrounding maternity services in Moray.