A dedicated helpline has been set up for parents-to-be in Moray anxious about the crisis childbirth arrangements being put in place.
Medium and high-risk pregnancies in the region are currently being transferred from Dr Gray’s to Aberdeen or Inverness due to staff shortages.
Yesterday, NHS Grampian’s director of acute services, Gary Mortimer, admitted that communication with families affected “has been difficult” due to changes happening on an “almost hourly” basis – but reaffirmed a commitment to working to reinstate all the Elgin services.
Now a new helpline has been set up, which will be staffed by local midwives, to allow families eager to learn more about the situation to ask questions.
Chief midwife Jane Raitt said: “Our community midwifery team has now been in direct contact with every mum-to-be who is due to give birth in the next six weeks and the first point of contact should continue to be the community midwife who is well known to the woman.
“We understand that this is an anxious time for people which is why we’ve set up this special helpline.”
Meanwhile, a dedicated property group has been set up by the NHS in order to help secure places to stay for staff who are considering moving to Moray.
Management were told at a public meeting in Elgin last week that the lack of accommodation had resulted in people turning down jobs in the town in recent months.
Mr Mortimer said: “The group is going to look at the property stock that is available and find where the quick-wins are where we know accommodation is an issue.”
The Scottish Government’s health secretary Jeane Freeman will visit Dr Gray’s today to debate the current staffing situation.
Ahead of the talks, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has pressed the Scottish Government to accelerate work on long-term plans to stabilise the staffing situation.
He said: “Every effort has to be made to ensure the service is reinstated as soon as possible and to reduce the number of women having to make the journey to Aberdeen to deliver their babies.”
The new helpline can be accessed by calling 01343 567443.
It will be manned from 10-11am and from 2-3pm, Monday to Friday.