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Consultant-led services at Dr Grays could take ten years, meeting hears, as politicians press board and Holyrood

By Lewis McBlane

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NHS Grampian leadership said a return to full service could take up to ten years during a Health Board meeting today.

Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin - NHS Grampian...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin - NHS Grampian...Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Senior leadership said the "phased" plans in place could mean a seven to ten year wait for a full consultant-led service at Elgin's Dr Gray's Hospital.

The Board also heard that Health and Social Care Minister Humza Yousaf had not officially contacted the Health board since his statement last week.

In the report shown to the meeting, NHS Grampian said: "NHS Grampian welcomes the clarity regarding the foundation and final destination models, however the Board is awaiting a formal letter from the Cabinet Secretary’s office which will provide further detail.

"We will work in partnership with the Scottish Government, NHS Highland, our staff, and the communities that we serve to make progress with these recommendations on a phased basis.

"Our priority remains the delivery of safe and sustainable maternity services and we share the Health Secretary’s commitment to ensuring expectant mothers receive the best possible care."

The news comes after the Cabinet Secretary publicly announced an additional £5 million for both Dr Gray's and Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, where many Moray mothers are to be sent until full service returns.

Moray MP and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross was furious at statements made during the meeting and at the Scottish Government approach.

He said: “I came away deeply frustrated and disappointed.

“Three years ago, we were told that our consultant-led maternity unit was being temporarily downgraded for a year, but since then very little has been done to restore this service.

"To hear the Chief Executive of NHS Grampian state that it could take another seven to ten years to reinstate this vital service is a huge blow to families in Moray.

“It was even more annoying to hear that the Board were still waiting to receive an official letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Health to allow them to further progress this issue."

MSP Richard Lochhead, however, appeared to place the responsibility for the project's delivery on NHS Grampian, rather than the Cabinet Secretary.

Mr Lochhead said: “I was pleased to hear NHS Grampian welcome the Health Secretary’s update on maternity services in Moray and the commitment to restoring a consultant led service at Dr Gray’s.

"The Scottish Government has met with NHS Grampian and set out clear deadlines for the health board to work up plans to deliver on this commitment.

"It is vital that NHS Grampian now work flat out to produce a plan that has the confidence and support of the community."

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