Meetings being prepared to ease Moray hospital communication concerns

© Michael TraillKirsty Watson, at the back from the left Marj Adams, Douglas Ross MP, Richard Lochhead MSP and Shelley O’Neill.
Kirsty Watson, at the back from the left Marj Adams, Douglas Ross MP, Richard Lochhead MSP and Shelley O’Neill.

Talks to get Moray residents involved in deciding how to restore a local hospital to full strength will be held next month.

Staff shortages have resulted in children’s and maternity services Dr Gray’s being downgraded since July.

The first phase of a plan to return the Elgin hospital to full strength has already been published by NHS Grampian.

This week Health Secretary Jeane Freeman agreed the health board’s communication during the disruption had been “poor”.

Now it has been revealed that a consultation event featuring workshops is being planned for next month to get locals involved in finding a sustainable staffing model for the hospital’s future as part of the next phase of the NHS plan.

However, campaign group Keep Mum is pressing for another public meeting to update residents – similar to the one held at Elgin Town Hall in July.

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NHS Grampian has already warned that the hospital will not return to full-strength for at least another a year.

Yesterday, Health and Social Care Moray’s chief officer, Pam Gowans, stressed it was important to use the time wisely to develop a sustainable future that will ease recurring staffing headaches.

She said: “There have been 10 advanced nurse practitioners hired and they will be going through intensive training during the next year and it will be their job to really hold the hospital in a secure way at night with less reliance on junior doctors.

“Realistically, we will be able to step up the hospital to another level once that is in place.

“That means we have time to do the second phase of the plan and do it well and we want to working with the public and staff to find that best model for the future.”

It is expected that Dr Gray’s long-term relationship between Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and Raigmore in Inverness will be explored in the plan.

NHS Grampian and Ms Freeman have both stressed that improvements have already been made in the amount of babies being born in Elgin.

A Keep Mum spokeswoman said: “NHS Grampian needs to be clear that we want a full public meeting.

“At that meeting they can engage with pregnant women, women who have travelled to Aberdeen in labour, parents of sick children and everyone else who is currently affected by the downgrade of the unit.”