Home   News   Article

YOUR VIEWS: Dr Gray’s Hospital, the A96 and emergency veterinary care among Moray issues highlighted by Northern Scot readers

By Ewan Malcolm

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

MATERNITY services, emergency veterinary care and the A96 are just some of the issues Northern Scot readers have highlighted as areas they would like to see improved in Moray.

From Dr Gray's to the A96 and the Dandy Lion, Northern Scot readers have shared their concerns and suggestions on some of the issues facing Moray.
From Dr Gray's to the A96 and the Dandy Lion, Northern Scot readers have shared their concerns and suggestions on some of the issues facing Moray.

Recently, we asked our readers on social media what they would change about the area if given the chance.

And after hundreds of suggestions we have compiled some of the most pressing matters facing Moray.

Maternity services

The maternity unit at Dr Gray’s Hospital was downgraded in July 2018 due to a lack of consultants.

Groups such as Keep MUM have long campaigned for the full restoration of maternity services in Moray.
Groups such as Keep MUM have long campaigned for the full restoration of maternity services in Moray.

Consequently, the majority of Moray women have had to travel to Aberdeen to give birth.

The Scottish Government has since announced that up to £6.6 million will be made available to support a “targeted return” of a full maternity service at the hospital by 2026.

But many women will still need to travel outwith Moray to give birth until that happens and for many its full restoration can’t come soon enough.

Giving her suggestion as to what she would like to see changed, Lauren Heather MacPherson said: “The maternity ward. I was lucky enough to have had my child in Elgin (2015).

“The staff were excellent, and I felt very safe during labour.”

Linzi Marandola said: “Reinstate full maternity services in Elgin so Moray women don't have to travel to Aberdeen putting themselves and their babies at risk.”

Tom Wardhaugh added: “Families being able to give birth to children here.”

Out of hours emergency veterinary care

Out of hours emergency care has been moved outwith Moray at the Wards Veterinary Centre, Seafield Vet Group and Speyside Veterinary Practice.

The Wards Veterinary Centre, Elgin. Picture: Beth Taylor
The Wards Veterinary Centre, Elgin. Picture: Beth Taylor

Each practice is owned by IVC Evidensia which says that the decision has been made due to a “severe” shortage of vets in the area.

But clients have expressed concerns about the move and a recent petition urging the company to reverse the decision has been signed by thousands of people.

The service remains in place at some Moray vets but with IVC’s decision to move the service at all of its practices outside the region, it means many pet owners will have to travel to either Inverness or Aberdeen to access out of hours care.

Yvonne Forrest said: “I’m unable to drive now due to a health problem so would be unable to travel to Inverness or Aberdeen.

“My poor little dog would have to suffer and perhaps even die before I could get him to a vet the following day.”

Elaine Stewart said: “An emergency vet in the area instead of Inverness or Aberdeen.”

Replying to Elaine, Julie Marshall said: “This is a must.”

Dualling the A96 and bypasses for Keith and Elgin

In 2011, the Scottish Government pledged to dual the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen by 2030.

A section of the A96 through Moray.
A section of the A96 through Moray.

The Bute House Agreement, an SNP and Green coalition deal signed in 2021, launched a review into A96 dualling that is now more than 18 months late.

Earlier this year, The Northern Scot revealed emails from 2020 which showed the scrapping of the pledge to dual the A96 by 2030 - despite the public having never been told.

The investigation series also showed that less than 0.5 per cent of the price tag to complete the project in time has been allocated, and nothing has been set aside for sections that might survive the A96 Corridor Review.

Also promised as part of the review were bypasses for Keith and Elgin but concerns have been raised that these could be scrapped.

Readers Paul Donaldson and Margaret Sierakowski were were both clear with their suggestions for improving Moray.

They both said: “Dual the A96 and bypass Keith and Elgin.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Leslie labelled the A96 a “shocking road”.

Dr Gray’s Hospital

The challenges facing Dr Gray’s Hospital are well known.

Dr Gray's Hospital. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Dr Gray's Hospital. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

An inspection report, published in February this year, outlined “serious concerns” regarding the hospital including severe overcrowding and lengthy waits in ambulances.

The report also highlighted 20 requirements which the hospital must address in order to improve.

Just one month after the report was published, NHS Grampian announced that an “unprecedented” funding crisis had forced the health board to redraw its 10-year-plan for Dr Gray’s.

That was after the Scottish Government indefinitely paused long-awaited work at the hospital including efforts to install a new MRI scanner and refurbish Ward 4, Moray’s inpatient mental health unit.

Dr Gray’s is also facing a £12 million overspend.

Pat MacPherson said: “Bring Dr Gray’s back up to strength, with appropriate surgeons and nursing staff.

“All these new houses going up in Elgin and they seem to be running down Dr Gray’s, will soon be turned in to a cottage hospital, so many procedures have no surgeon and you have to travel to Aberdeen when before it was done in Dr Gray’s.”

Fiona Manclark said: “Having to go all the way to Aberdeen for hospital appointments. Inverness is 40 minutes from me, it's ridiculous.”

Denise Halpin added: “With an ever growing population it astounds me that the hospital facilities continue to decline.”

Delivery charges and postcode

Several calls to end what has been described as a “postcode lottery” have been made over the years by local campaigners and Moray politicians.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has been a long-time campaigner on the issue.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has been a long-time campaigner on the issue.

In late 2020 a report found that people in Moray were being charged an extra £3 million in delivery charges.

And campaigners say that it is unfair to penalise Moray residents purely based on where they live.

Northern Scot readers agree, with Sheila Christie suggesting Moray's postcode should be changed.

She said: “We pay over the nose for Highlands and Islands for delivery charge on parcels.”

Lindsay Benison added: “The postcode could be changed so that we don't pay ridiculous prices for postage.”

The Dandy Lion statue

Love it or hate it, the Dandy Lion statue continues to be seen as a controversial addition to Elgin's High Street.

Unveiling of the Dandy Lion statue. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Unveiling of the Dandy Lion statue. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The statue was unveiled in 2016 and was created by sculptor Vik Quickly having been inspired by town-centre trading in the 19th Century.

But many see it as an eyesore with one former Moray councillor labelling it "cultural vomit".

Meanwhile, a US-based site called it a "baffling beast" adding that it may be the most hated statue in Scotland.

The site also floated the theory that it could become more loved over time.

Many Moray residents' views of the statue have not softened over time, however, with some saying it should be removed altogether.

Harry Leslie said: "The Dandy Lion statue should be demolished."

Rhona Main Grant, replying to Harry, said: "Believe it or not people voted for it."

Wendy Edwards, defending the statue, added: "The Dandy Lion statue has a more historic place in Moray than you know."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More