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'Little progress' on Moray hospital recruitment

By Alistair Whitfield


HEALTH bosses outwith Moray have been accused of comprising on care both for pregnant women as well as children in the area.

The Keep Mum campaign is claiming "little progress" has been made in recruiting much needed extra staff to Dr Gray's Hospital over the course of last year.

The claims come after the NHS Grampian board met this week to talk about the restoration of full maternity and paediatric services at the Elgin hospital.

Following the meeting, Pam Gowans, NHS Grampian’s Executive Lead for Dr Gray’s, cautioned that successful recruitment to the new posts required would be essential.

She said: "This is a complex process and we appreciate people being patient while we make sure we get the right service model and staff in place.

"Recruitment is going to be the key to all of this and we will pull out all the stops in our efforts to attract additional people to Gray’s.

"It’s also not just about the very specific workforce requirements the plan commits us to; we also need to make sure the wider hospital has the right staff in place to support a 24-hour women and children’s service again.

"Most people don’t realise how closely the services at Dr Gray’s are interlinked and there is no doubt the new 24/7 women and children’s service will place extra demands elsewhere in the hospital.

"Our anaesthetic consultants, who play a vital role across the whole hospital, are likely going to require additional staff to help deliver round the clock emergency caesarean sections, for example.

"Our Emergency Department Team is critical to the delivery of the children’s service.

"We continue to work on resolving the current staffing requirements alongside the shaping up of our wider multi-professional team including the Advanced Nurse Practitioners currently in training to improve the resilience of the hospital at night.

"There are many components to bring together and we continue to work intensively on the workforce arrangements with an eye to the future.

"Those are risks our local staff have raised and clearly there would be no point in fixing one staffing issue to cause another elsewhere. We’ve always said that we will not compromise on patient safety and we remain firmly committed to that.

"The next step is to ensure that we have the staff in place to deliver these proposals safely. The team will work with services across the hospital to look at the impact over the coming weeks to make sure that Dr Gray’s is fighting fit and ready for the future."

Both maternity and paediatric services were downgraded in July last year due to staffing issues.

Since then the majority of women have had to travel to Aberdeen to give birth.

Also speaking this week was Elgin mum-of-three Kirtsy Watson, who leads the Keep Mum campaign group.

She said: "The maternity and paediatric units were downgraded because of a failure to plan and recruit a suitable workforce.

"We are being asked to be patient while NHS Grampian makes sure they get the right service model and staff in place. It is nearly a year since the maternity unit was downgraded and very little progress has been made with planning and recruiting the workforce.

"Why are we still waiting for the recruitment process to start?

"We are being told this is the ‘next step’ but surely this ‘next step’ should have been taken months ago?

"It is evident to us that Dr Gray’s hospital has been short changed for years by NHS Grampian. The hospital has been underfunded right across all its departments and treated more like a cottage hospital than a District General hospital.

"Keep Mum and our supporters need to hear that Aberdeen-based NHS Grampian managers and clinicians are 100% committed to the restoration of our services.

"The suspicion remains in Moray that strong voices continue to be opposed to developments at Dr Gray’s hospital.

"At the moment, NHS Grampian needs to face the fact that they are currently compromising on patient safety in Moray in both maternity and paediatrics."

  • NHS Grampian has stated that it expects to put new services in place by Spring next year, subject to successful recruitment and public consultation.
  • Its full long-term plan for Dr Gray's is available to read here

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