Dr Gray's maternity issues action plan due next week

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The first phase of an NHS Grampian action plan to tackle the downgrading of maternity services at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin is to be published next week.

Women considered to be at risk now have to have their babies elsewhere following the downgrading, which was due to staff shortages.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has visited Dr Gray's for discussions.

NHS Grampian medical director Nick Fluck said progress has been made.

The downgrading came into effect in July.

NHS Grampian recently announced it was reintroducing elective Caesarean sections earlier than planned, after recruiting additional staff.

'Unsettling time'

Dr Fluck said of Wednesday's talks: "We continued our positive discussions.

"Phase one of our action plan will be published next week. This gives an update on the progress we've made so far and what we are doing to gradually step up services where we can safely do so.

"We are already seeing some really significant progress over the last few months which means fewer women have to travel to deliver their babies."

image captionHealth Secretary Jeane Freeman previously called for an action plan

He explained: "We've seen the number of births at Dr Gray's more than double from 13% in August to 33% in October. Last week's announcement that consultants can start booking elective sections in Elgin is also a huge boost.

"We know this has been an unsettling time across the wider community in Elgin, but I want to assure you that we are working very hard behind the scenes and to make sure Dr Gray's Hospital has a safe, sustainable and bright future as part of the north of Scotland hospital network."

'Safe and sustainable'

Ms Freeman said: "I have had constructive meetings with NHS Grampian senior leadership, members of staff and the maternity liaison group, which includes the Keep Mum campaign group.

"My primary concern remains that that we increase services for Moray women at Dr Gray's, but that we do so in a safe and sustainable way.

"I now hope NHS Grampian will be in a position to publish their first phase plan for restoring services within the next couple of weeks.

"At the same time we will publish the Chief Medical Officer's Advisory Group Report, which was produced in order to inform this process."

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