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Keep Mum campaigners ‘suspicious’ about NHS Grampian’s plans to reinstate maternity services at Dr Gray’s

Marj Adams, Keep Mum campaigner, has been campaigning for improved maternity care since the 1980s.
Marj Adams is a campaigner with Keep Mum who want to see a consultant-led unit reinstated at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin. Pictures by Jason Hedges.

A campaign group battling to see maternity services fully restored at Dr Gray’s in Elgin have cast doubt over NHS Grampian’s plans.

NHS Grampian will be publishing its draft plan to the Scottish Government today detailing how maternity services will be delivered in Moray. That includes an interim draft plan, with bosses saying work is ongoing to develop a draft plan by the end of the year for a return to a full consultant-led service.

But some campaigners are still skeptical about if Dr Gray’s will have its full roll reinstated.

Services were downgraded at Elgin’s Dr Gray’s maternity hospital in 2018 because of staff shortages – leaving mums facing a trip to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth.

Keep Mum’s Marj Adams, from the campaign group Keep Mum told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland today: “What we know so far is that NHS Grampian has put in place a community maternity unit at Dr Gray’s, and that that will be networked with Raigmore hospital.

“The benefit will be a slightly shorter travelling time. And that’s really not enough.”

Dr Gray's Hospital
Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. Picture by Jason Hedges/DCT Media.

Will the community unit lead to a full-blown unit?

Currently, around 75% of Moray births happen in Aberdeen, which is a 90-minute drive away. Raigmore Hospital in Inverness is around 60-minutes away.

In the last six months, two Moray women were forced to give birth near the A96 while on their way to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

Ms Adams recently told the Press and Journal that she fears the lack of maternity cover in Moray could “end in the death of a mother or a baby”.

Ms Adams said today: “The biggest problem with the plans we’ve seen is that there is no link between the community maternity unit and a full obstetric maternity unit.

“How does the community midwifery unit lead to the full-blown unit?

“What’s the relationship between the two? Nobody’s able to answer that question.

“Sadly, it just fuels suspicions in Moray minds that NHS Grampian are not, as they say, fully committed to restoring the obstetric unit.”

Yesterday, NHS Grampian’s chief executive Caroline Hiscox insisted the health board is committed to the delivery of an obstetric led service in Elgin, but warned it would take time.

NHS Grampian health chief Professor Caroline Hiscox
Caroline Hiscox, chief executive of NHS Grampian. Picture by Paul Glendell

‘Committed’ to full consultant-led service

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said today: “We are committed to a full consultant-led service in Elgin and will be publishing a draft plan for that by the end of this year. The draft plan for an interim networked model will be submitted to Scottish Government today and is being shared with staff and local stakeholders.

“Once this is complete it will be shared more widely and we would encourage people to read the plan in full for themselves.”

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