A heavily pregnant woman has complained to NHS Grampian after being forced to stand outside while waiting to see her midwife.
Caitlin Smart, from Rothiemay, said she “dreaded” coming to her appointments.
She said she had to stand out in the open for long periods before several scheduled appointments at Huntly Jubilee Hospital.
During one visit, the Covid wait at Huntly was 40 minutes, with her left standing on a ramp by a fire exit.
More recently, waiting for her 30-week check, she was left exposed in 22 degree heat for 20 minutes.
‘This could go very wrong’
Parents group UFT Scotland called it a “disgraceful scenario” which “epitomises the utter disregard that exists for mothers and children.”
The 38-year-old said she feared other pregnant woman would be put off attending their check-ups.
“It would be easy to say ‘oh well’, but it’s been going on since the start of my pregnancy and it’s so hot now,” she said.
“And you think, ‘actually, I’m very pregnant now, and this could go very wrong’.
“I dreaded going on Friday as it was so hot.
“I thought, ‘this is starting to overshadow the pregnancy’.
“It runs the risk of people not going to their appointments.
“And if they don’t go, it could end badly.
“I mean the 30-week check is a very important appointment, they checked my bloods and how the baby was doing.”
Ms Smart said she went to the A&E reception, pressing the intercom six times without answer.
Eventually a nurse came to the door for another patient, telling her she needed to go to the fire exit.
‘Elderly people wouldn’t be treated this way’
“It’s just not right to have pregnant women standing out in all weathers – there’s no shelter at all,” she said.
“There’s no shelter, there’s no seat, and there’s no way to contact the midwife to check she knows you are waiting.
“If it was elderly people having to do so, I think people would be really quite cross.
“But there’s perhaps an element of ‘oh well, they’re young’.
“I couldn’t even put a chair down to sit on because it’s on a ramp and would just topple over.
“I’ve had appointments at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and the Inverurie Maternity Unit, and my experience was so different there.
“Everything was so normal, the security guards were helpful, the people inside were normal, I was offered a bottle of water while I waited.”
‘I really struggled in the heat’
She added that she understood the Covid wait at Huntly was because restrictions have to be in place, but said the rules were “very inconsistent”.
She added: “Inside the fire exit door at Huntly Jubilee Hospital there are around six seats.
“There is also an empty waiting area in the A&E department, as well as in an adjoining corridor.
“I’m unsure why these can’t be used.
“I find it ridiculous NHS Grampian expect heavily pregnant women to stand outside for up to 40 minutes on a ramp in a car park in order to see their midwife.
“I really struggled in the heat, and I had no way to make contact with my midwife.
“The door only opens from the inside, and if I had fainted no-one would have seen me as the fire exit is tucked round the back of the car park.”
‘Illogical and negligent practice’
Jo Bisset, organiser for parents group UFT Scotland, said: “This disgraceful scenario epitomises the utter disregard that exists for mothers and children.
“There’s no acceptable circumstances under which pregnant women should be treated like this.
“If this had happened pre-pandemic everyone would be appalled.
“But for some reason this kind of illogical and negligent practice now seems commonplace.
“Everyone understands the challenges the pandemic has placed on health services.
“But there’s no excuse for not catering for those who are most vulnerable, especially at the very place that’s supposed to be treating them.”
An Aberdeen mum spoke out recently about the difficulties giving birth during a pandemic.
NHS Grampian: ‘We are sorry’
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the Covid wait at Huntly has been raised with the Jubilee team.
She added: “We are sorry to hear this patient had a poor experience at their recent appointment.
“Covid restrictions and safety measures are unique to each building, taking account of the space available.
“We aim to apply measures as consistently as we can.
“But with an estate comprising everything from brand new facilities, such as Inverurie Health and Care Hub, to buildings which are many decades old, there will be some variations.
“We continue to be extremely grateful to the general public for their support of, and compliance with, these measures.”