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Douglas Ross demands certainty for Dr Gray’s maternity service one week before pregnant wife’s due date

Douglas Ross with his wife Krystle and son Alistair.
Douglas Ross with his wife Krystle and son Alistair.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross revealed his wife is “anxious” about being diverted from their local maternity unit with just one week until she’s due to give birth.

The Moray MP highlighted their personal circumstances as he called for an urgent decision on the future of services at Dr Gray’s in Elgin.

His wife, Krsytle, is expecting their second child at the unit which was given a “temporary” downgrade from a consultant-led ward three years ago. It means any complications can lead to women being sent to hospitals including Aberdeen, nearly 70 miles away.

Mr Ross, who is also a Highlands and Islands MSP, wants the Scottish Government to restore services so local families can stay in the area.

Speaking before a Holyrood debate on Tuesday, Mr Ross said: “Krystle is on what’s called a green pathway so she is OK to give birth at Dr Gray’s. We have nothing but praise and admiration for the staff there, but people need assurances that consultant-led services will be restored for the future.

Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

“Krystle is anxious about it, of course, she wants to be here. I hear from lots of constituents about their anxiety too. If it’s safer to go to Aberdeen, of course they can go there and get good care. But if the SNP were genuine about a temporary downgrade, there should be clear milestones on the way back to getting it running normally again.

“Krystle is adamant she doesn’t want to have to go elsewhere at the last minute. We’re six or seven minutes away from Dr Gray’s. It can be two hours to Aberdeen on the A96 sometimes.”

Mr Ross said local campaigners Keep MUM deserve praise for their long campaign to get a wider service restored in Elgin.

He said NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government had previously blamed each other for delays. Mr Ross now wants new health secretary Humza Yousaf to step in and sort out the problem.

SNP government ‘remains committed’

An independent review was announced in March by Jeane Freeman, who was SNP health secretary at the time. She stepped down at the election on May 6.

The review is being led by NHS Borders chief executive Ralph Roberts who is expected to report back with recommendation in this month. He is considering if a consultant-led services can be reinstated.

Staff shortages were blamed for the downgrade in July 2018.

Speaking in March before she resigned, Ms Freeman said: “My position hasn’t changed and I remain committed to the reintroduction of consultant-led maternity services at Dr Gray’s in a safe and sustainable way. This Independent Review will consider, and where appropriate contribute to, the work underway in the ‘Best Start North’ review, commissioned jointly by NHS Grampian, Highland and the Island Boards, to examine the model of maternity and neonatal services in the North that will report later in the year.

“The review will consider all the issues and hear directly from staff at Dr Gray’s and the local community. I expect the review to conclude and report to the Cabinet Secretary in June 2021.”

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