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MSP hails 'monumental' Moray maternity service investment

By Alan Beresford

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A NORTH-east MSP has described the decision to invest in the return of consultant-led maternity care in Moray as "monumental".

Banffshire and Buchab Coast MSP Karen Adam.
Banffshire and Buchab Coast MSP Karen Adam.

She went on to praise Mr Yousaf’s commitment to working with the Keep Mum Campaign to restore consultant-led services for parents in and around Moray, which locals across Banffshire are also set to benefit from.

Work to bring back the service at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin will proceed following Scottish Government approval of plans to re-establish services.

The plan for an integrated maternity service for the north of Scotland, developed jointly by NHS Grampian and NHS Highland, will be backed by up to £6.6 million of Scottish Government investment.

A phased return to obstetric maternity services at Dr Gray's will start with enhanced complex obstetric antenatal care and day assessment later this year. Elective caesarean births will re-start in early 2025 with full consultant-led services returning in 2026.

A networked model of care with Raigmore hospital will see Moray women offered a choice of place of birth in early 2025, once refurbishment work has concluded. Refurbishment of the Raigmore maternity unit will be supported through a further £5 million of earmarked funding.

Ms Adam said: “Humza Yousaf has gone above and beyond as Health Secretary to support the return of consultant-led care for residents of Banffshire and Moray.

“For quite some time, parents in Banffshire and Moray have been struggling with the issue of having to travel quite lengthy journeys to give birth in a safe healthcare setting.

“I am so delighted with this funding announcement, the work that Humza has undertaken to support Dr Gray's is truly monumental and I am incredibly pleased the constructive talks I have had with my colleagues and the Keep Mum Campaign is paying off.

“Credit goes to the Keep Mum Campaign for the amount of work they continue to do for parents in Banffshire and Moray, and I will continue to support their goal of ensuring parents can give birth closer to home.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf added: “NHS Grampian and Highland’s ambitious plan will deliver what local people have asked for – a return to obstetric maternity services at Dr Gray's in a safe and sustainable way.

“I thank both health boards and their clinical teams for the collaborative and innovative work that has gone into the development of this plan. I am grateful to Professor Linda De Caestecker, who was appointed to provide External Assurance, for her advice and support which has been crucial in getting us to this point.

“Delivering the plan will not be without its challenges, and the collaborative approach NHS Grampian and Highland have in place will provide a solid platform for shared delivery.

"Professor De Caestecker has agreed to continue to provide external assurance in the first year of the delivery period and I very much welcome this.”

Moray MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Moray MP Douglas Ross. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross gave a cautious welcome to the announcement but stated that "much more work needs to be done".

He continued: “Confirmation of approval and funding for these plans to restore maternity services at Dr Gray’s is a step in the right direction but much more work needs to be done by Humza Yousaf and this SNP government.

“It is welcome that action has finally been taken by him after I raised my growing concerns only last week with NHS Grampian over the complete lack of urgency following the Health Secretary’s statement to parliament before Christmas.

“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 of this announcement and 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 for Moray mums if this plan is realised on time, even now that the misguided Model 4 plans have been scrapped.

“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.

“Plans must progress without any further delay and this announcement...must be backed up with robust delivery by Humza Yousaf and NHS Grampian.”

In 2018, due to staff shortages, NHS Grampian changed Dr Grays maternity services from an obstetric consultant led service to a midwife led service. Work has been underway since that date to restore consultant led maternity services to Dr Grays.

Following extensive local engagement, NHS Highland and NHS Grampian submitted a plan for an Integrated Maternity Service for the North, with consultant-led obstetric services at Dr Gray’s to the Cabinet Secretary in December 2022.

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