Health bosses yesterday revealed fewer pregnant mums will need to travel to Aberdeen to give birth following the recruitment of new doctors at the hospital in Elgin.
Two locum paediatric consultants began working at Dr Gray’s Hospital last month to support existing clinicians.
Yesterday NHS Grampian revealed the recruitment boost means elective cesarean sections can return to Elgin sooner than expected against the plan it has prepared to return services to the town.
BUut the health board warned they may have be withdrawn again in February unless the recruitment situation improves.
The health authority was asked to draw up an action plan for the Scottish Government in August before having to make revisions.
And despite an assurance that the plan would be published when approved, no details have yet been released.
Last night it was also confirmed that the Scottish Government’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman, will also visit Dr Gray’s next week to check progress on the blueprint.
Sue Swift, divisional manager for the women and children’s service at the hospital, explained the recruitment boost was a “firm demonstration” that the NHS was committed to reintroducing services when safe to do so.
She added: “We appreciate this isn’t going to solve all of the issues we face and we remain committed to the restoration of a consultant led service in the long term.
“The early reintroduction of elective cesareans is just one of the things we are pursuing.
“We have a travel expenses fund in place to help support mums and their birthing partner with the cost of getting to and from Aberdeen or Inverness to have their baby but we are keen to provide any additional support and advice where we can.”
A downgrade to the maternity service at Dr Gray’s in July resulted in 80% of Moray mums having to travel outside of the region to give birth.
However, it is understood that figure has improved in recent weeks.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “It is crucial that the health board looks to find creative solutions to recruit the medical staff necessary to ensure a sustainable service for women and children in Moray.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “While there is progress in this area, I still have grave concerns over the lack of maternity services in Moray. As the weather has started to deteriorate, women will still have to travel to Aberdeen to give birth.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will visit Elgin next week. She will carry out a number of engagements with NHS Grampian and local groups who have been campaigning about maternity services at Dr Gray’s Hospital.”