Health secretary urged to restore Moray maternity services

Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross said almost three years on, the measure described as 'temporary' was still in place.

Health secretary urged to restore Moray maternity services Getty Images

Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross has urged health secretary Jeane Freeman to urgently review plans to restore maternity services at a hospital in Elgin – almost three years after it was downgraded.

NHS Grampian announced plans to cut back on consultant-led services at the  Dr Gray’s Hospital last July due to staff shortages.   

Expectant mothers from the local area who are deemed at risk have been travelling to Aberdeen or Inverness since then.   

Ross said almost three years on, the measure described as “temporary” was still in place.   

Douglas Ross called for a review.STV News

The Moray MP has raised the issue in the wake of heavy snow which forced the closure of the main A96 Aberdeen-Inverness route and increased concern of mums-to-be about emergency situations.

The campaign group Keep Mum claimed last week that NHS Grampian had “no intention” of restoring full maternity services.  

Ross, the Scottish Conservatives’ leader, wants assurances from Ms Freeman and has asked for plans to fully return to a consultant-led service to be outlined “in detail”.

He said: “Women in Moray face the daunting and dangerous prospect of having to travel up to 70 miles along the busy A96.   

“The winter months can be particularly treacherous. This could compromise the safety of pregnant women who have already been identified as being at risk of complications.”

He added: “We all appreciate we are in the middle of a pandemic but this is work that should be have been completed long before Covid and there is no reason why we cannot be given a clear timeline and plan.”

Freeman visited the hospital in November 2018 to discuss an action plan for restoring services.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We remain committed to the reintroduction of an obstetric maternity service at Dr Gray’s in a safe and sustainable way.

“We have welcomed the Best Start North review, commissioned jointly by NHS Grampian, Highland and the island boards, which aims to examine the model of maternity and neonatal services in the north to develop the best possible sustainable model for the future.

“This was largely paused due to coronavirus but work is expected to restart in the spring.

“We also welcomed the recent announcement of improvements to the birthing unit at Dr Gray’s, including a new birthing pool and upgrades to the birthing rooms, which will improve the environment for women who give birth at Dr Gray’s.”