A draft joint plan on the future of maternity services in Moray has been presented to the Scottish Government, after a downgrading four years ago.
Dr Gray’s Hospital, in Elgin, switched to a midwife-led service in 2018, resulting in women in need of more complex care having to go to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary or Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
The Government confirmed in March that it was committed to returning the hospital to a consultant-led model.
In the meantime, a community maternity model linked mainly to Raigmore will be put in place, with Friday’s publication setting out proposals for this to be achieved by December 2023.
The “Moray networked model” would allow for women to have the option to choose either a midwife-led or consultant-led birth at Raigmore Hospital from that date, with the report stating that the hospital will require upgraded facilities to make sure there is enough capacity.
A recruitment campaign will also take place in order for Raigmore to ensure it has enough staff to cover the services upon the model’s launch.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I welcome NHS Grampian and NHS Highland’s draft joint plan for Moray maternity services and acknowledge the huge amount of work has been carried out. I commend both boards for the ambitious timescale they have set out to achieving the Moray networked model by the end of 2023.
“I will now consider the draft plan alongside additional detail to be submitted in the coming weeks.
“As part of that consideration, I will seek additional external input and advice and am pleased to announce that Professor Linda de Caestecker will lead the external oversight process I announced as part of my response to the review in March.
“Linda brings with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise and I am very much looking forward to working with her.
“It is right now to allow some time for the plan and associated documents to be scrutinised and discussed in more detail and I intend updating the Scottish Parliament as soon as is practicable at the beginning of the next session.”
Prof De Caestecker recently retired as director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, after holding the role from 2006 until earlier this year.