Health in Moray: £6.6m pledged to restore full Dr Gray's maternity service by 2026
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The Scottish Government has announced that up to £6.6 million will be made available to support a targeted return of a full maternity service to Dr Gray's by 2026.
A phased return will start at the Elgin hospital later this year with enhanced antenatal care.
Elective caesarean births will re-start in early 2025, with a full consultant-led service earmarked for 2026.
Due to a lack of consultants, Dr Gray's maternity service was downgraded four years ago to become a midwife-led service.
At the time, the move was supposed to be only temporary.
However, the vast majority of Moray women have since faced having to travel in order to give birth either in Aberdeen, or more lately, Inverness.
Professor Caroline Hiscox, NHS Grampian's chief executive, welcomed today's announcement by Humza Yousaf, the Health Secretary.
She said: "This £6.6million of funding will enable us to start the recruitment process as soon as possible to provide the necessary expertise required at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.
"We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s approval for our plans to develop Moray maternity services.
"This is a significant and welcome step, which I know will be warmly welcomed by families, midwives and clinicians across Moray.
"We have worked tirelessly to develop robust models that can deliver a safe and sustainable maternity service for Moray.
"I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the development of the plans and look forward to seeing their delivery.
"We look forward to working in partnership with NHS Highland on the planned networked model, which will help deliver services across the region."
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead commented: "This feels like the first serious step forward in delivering the plan to restore these vital services in Elgin.
"It is now imperative that NHS Grampian works flat out, leaving no stone unturned, to secure the staff we need.
"I think everyone in Moray recognises that restoration won’t happen overnight and that services will need to be rebuilt in a phased way, in order to ensure they are safe, sustainable, and fit for the future.
"This funding from the Scottish Government shows a real commitment to make sure that happens.
"I want to pay tribute to Keep MUM and everyone who has been involved in the campaign to this point."
Meanwhile, Douglas Ross, Moray's MP, is giving today's announcement a "cautious welcome".
He said: "Earmarking millions for this initial implementation is positive, but it is crucial that it is spent in the right areas.
"The devil will be in the detail. The finer print must give expectant mothers in Moray and tireless campaigners confidence once and for all over the return of consultant-led services at Dr Gray’s.
"Many promises have been made before but have proven not to be worth the paper they are written on. "The reality still remains that the so-called temporary downgrade of maternity services at Dr Gray’s will have lasted eight years.
"If this implementation is to be successful, then Humza Yousaf needs to recognise that serious issues around recruitment remain.
"That is exacerbated by the rural and remote geography of Moray and the Highlands, and the 'solid platform' he has described could fall apart without the required staff in place.
"The restoration of maternity services at Dr Gray’s in the quickest possible timeframe is an issue that is very personal to me.
"I will continue to hold Humza Yousaf and the SNP-Green government fully to account on behalf of Moray mums who are desperate for this to succeed."