Call for urgent talks over loss of overnight care at children’s ward

NHS Grampian has been struggling to recruit at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin.

NHS bosses are facing mounting pressure to come up with long-term plans for the children’s ward at Dr Gray’s Hospital which has been closed due to recruitment problems.

Hospital staff are struggling to provide a full service with a shortage of junior doctors, leaving only three consultants responsible for round-the-clock paediatric care in Elgin.

NHS Grampian has been forced to close specialist children’s services overnight between 10pm and 8am this week, leaving limited options for parents with sick children.

Families are advised to either take their children to their GP or to the emergency department, where they may then be refered on to paediatric services in Aberdeen.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, SNP, met the health board chief executive Malcolm Wright to discuss an action plan for recruitment to increase staff numbers.

Now Scottish Conservative Mr Ross has called for Mr Wright to hold an urgent public meeting about health services in Moray, after meeting senior managers to discuss the crisis on Friday.

He said: “Since NHS Grampian’s announcement on Wednesday, I have been contacted by many people who are naturally very upset the ward appears to be under threat again with no night-time service available, and worries about the sustainability of the children’s unit and NHS services in Moray in general, if staffing is posing such a problem.

“There is a lot of talk locally that there is a drive to reduce the services available in Moray and centralise them in Aberdeen. Obviously this is something I would fight against vigorously, but I would hope an open meeting would allow both sides to hear about the situation in Moray.

“It is crucial that we find a sustainable solution going forward.

“NHS Grampian must give reassurances, not just about the children’s ward, but about the future of services here in general.”

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman welcomed the move and said the health board was keen to find a solution.

“We are keen to work with all local stakeholders to find a sustainable way forward for Dr Gray’s,” she said. “We note Mr Ross’s intention to hold a public meeting and look forward to learning more about this proposed event.”