NHS Grampian told to improve Elgin maternity plan

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Image source, Laura Cowie

NHS Grampian's plan for returning a full consultant-led maternity service at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin needs to improve, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

A downgrading of maternity services in Moray came into effect last month.

Ms Freeman said further improvements to the plan to resume full consultant-led maternity services were needed.

NHS Grampian responded that a further version of the plan would be submitted next week.

Staff shortages

The downgrading meant some women would still be able to give birth in Elgin, but those considered to be at risk have to make the journey to Aberdeen or Inverness.

Those who develop complications during labour at Dr Gray's receive emergency treatment from on-call consultants at the hospital.

They would then be transferred to Inverness.

NHS Grampian announced the downgrading of services last month due to staff shortages.

Image source, Getty Images

Ms Freeman said: "I have now reviewed NHS Grampian's plan for returning a full consultant-led maternity service at Dr Gray's Hospital and have advised the health board that further important improvements are needed to the plan.

"Scottish government officials are working closely with NHS Grampian to ensure that these improvements are urgently made.

"Given the importance of this issue to local people we expect the health board to resubmit their plan to the Scottish government early next week.

"Throughout this process the safety of mothers and babies is of utmost importance and NHS Grampian has stressed that the well-being and care of patients is paramount."

'Must be realistic'

An NHS Grampian spokesperson said: "We received initial feedback from the Scottish government today on the draft plan developed with input from staff, the public and our partners and submitted on 17 August.

"We are working closely with officials to incorporate their feedback and will provide a further version of the plan to the cabinet secretary early next week.

"We acknowledge there is a lot of work still to be done. We're keen to press ahead and make progress towards restoring a consultant led obstetric and paediatric service in Elgin.

"However, we must be realistic and, given the recruitment challenges we currently face, clearly that will not happen overnight."

The Keep Mum (Maternity Unit for Moray) group has been campaigning to protect services at Dr Gray's.