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NHS Grampian to brief elected representatives and community on Moray maternity plans

By Jonathan Clark

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COMMUNITY groups and elected officials are set to be briefed on maternity plans in Moray tomorrow.

Senior management at NHS Grampian will meet with politicians including Moray's SNP MSP and Conservative MP Douglas Ross, as well as Maternity Voices Partnership and Keep MUM.

At this meeting, interim plans for maternity services at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin will be outlined.

Ahead of the meeting, Caroline Hiscox, NHS Grampian's chief executive, underlined the health board's ambition of delivering a new-and-improved maternity service in Moray.

Professor Caroline Hiscox.
Professor Caroline Hiscox.

She said: "This is one of our highest priorities and I want to reassure you that we are committed to the delivery of an obstetric-led service in Elgin.

"It is also one of our biggest challenges and I understand the level of concern and anxiety in the community about the delivery of this service.

"What the Cabinet Secretary, Mr Humza Yousaf, has set out for us to achieve will not happen overnight.

"It takes time and I hope that you, as the community we serve, will allow us to carry on the work with your input and engagement throughout."

Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead welcomed the meeting. He said: "Ongoing issues around maternity services at Dr Gray’s are a top priority for people in Moray.

Richard Lochhead, Moray's SNP MSP. Picture: Becky Saunderson
Richard Lochhead, Moray's SNP MSP. Picture: Becky Saunderson

"NHS Grampian has been given clear direction from the Scottish Government that a consultant-led service must be reinstated.

"We need to see NHS Grampian ramp up efforts to rebuild the service and rebuild trust within the local community.

“We must get back to a place where the majority of women in Moray are able to give birth at Dr Gray’s and the interim plans need to demonstrate that the health board will work at pace to ensure this happens as soon as possible.

“I hope that the interim plans will also outline how the health board intends to use the £5m funding from the Scottish Government for investment at Dr Gray’s.”

Two weeks ago, Moray's MP Douglas Ross called for an update with the plans in the Scottish Parliament before summer recess on June 30.

As it became clear that would not happen, Mr Ross accused NHS Grampian, with the aid of SNP Ministers, of "avoiding parliamentary scrutiny" on the matter.

Conservative MP Douglas Ross hit out at NHS Grampian. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Conservative MP Douglas Ross hit out at NHS Grampian. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

“NHS Grampian said that the timelines for their move to model four of delivery would be outlined by June," Mr Ross said. "They are going to miss their own deadline on that.

“The reasons are clear. The health board are willingly seeking to avoid any parliamentary scrutiny.

"They have chosen to deliver their plans tomorrow, less than 24 hours after the Scottish Parliament has broken up for summer recess, and won’t sit again until September.

“NHS Grampian have been helped in their aims to avoid by local SNP MSP Richard Lochhead and SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf every step of the way.

“It is a total dereliction of duty and an insult to expectant mothers and families across Moray. It is outrageous that the health board are trying to hide away from their responsibilities.

"This has resulted in babies being born at the roadside or mothers having to take difficult journeys along the A96, as I had first-hand experience of last year.

“This issue is not going away and I will continue to hold ministers and the health board to account, even if they don’t want that to happen in the Holyrood chamber.”

In response to Mr Ross' comments, an NHS Grampian spokeswoman said that feedback and scrutiny of the plan, which will be made publicly available after tomorrow's meeting, is "welcome".

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