Delay to review of maternity services at Dr Gray's
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An independent review into the possible return of full maternity services at Dr Gray's Hospital will not now report its findings until November.
The review was commissioned by the former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in March.
Led by Ralph Roberts, the chief Executive of NHS Borders, it was originally due to report its findings and recommendations in June.
Douglas Ross, Moray's MP, has expressed his frustration at the delay which is being attributed to current pressures on the NHS.
He said: "While everyone accepts the pressures within the NHS, this review was set-up during the pandemic so Covid has featured throughout the time the programme team has been looking at it.
"If it now won’t even go to ministers until November it seems that Moray families face another winter of having to travel to Aberdeen rather than having a local service.
"I’m also concerned about capacity issues in Aberdeen as I’ve been contacted by a family who were sent even further afield to give birth which is extremely worrying.
"We need to hear that a full consultant-led maternity service is being restored to Moray sooner rather than later and we need this report to be published as a starting point."
Maternity services at Dr Gray's were downgraded in July 2018 because of staff shortages.
The review has been tasked with considering how a consultant-led service could be reinstated in Moray that is safe, deliverable and sustainable.
Richard Lochhead, Moray's MSP, said: "I welcome the fact that the independent review group has taken evidence from a wide range of stakeholders and have received a high volume of submissions on the future of maternity services at Dr Gray’s.
"I think this shows just how important this service is to people in Moray and the strong affection people have for ward 3.
"Although pressure on NHS services due to the pandemic has caused some delay, I’m glad we now have clarity as to when the report will be completed and recommendations sent to ministers.
"I hope we will then have a clear way forward as to how a consultant-led maternity service can be restored at Dr Gray’s Hospital."
The Keep Mum group has been campaigning for the reintroduction of a consultant-led service for the past three years.
A statement on its website says: "Keep Mum appreciates that compiling and writing the report is a massive exercise and we look forward to reading the published report.
"All of Moray is eager to hear the conclusions of the review team.
"Meanwhile, our campaign continues because:
"Women continue to suffer high levels of anxiety and uncertainty during their pregnancies.
"Women continue to travel to Aberdeen to be induced.
"Women continue to travel to Aberdeen in labour in private cars without any pain relief or assistance if things go wrong.
"Women continue to be transferred in an ambulance if there are any complications or any concerns about the labour.
"The vast majority of Moray births are taking place in Aberdeen."