Maternity service at Scottish Highlands hospital downgraded

Staffing shortages have led to the maternity services at a Highlands hospital being downgraded.

Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin will have its maternity service scaled back
Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin will have its maternity service scaled back

The maternity facility at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin has been cut back.

Some pregnant women who are considered to be medium to high risk will now need to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth from mid July.

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Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said the system for rotas was broken.

NHS Grampian said the move was the only option given low staff numbers.

Sue Swift, NHS Grampian’s divisional manager for the women and children’s service, told the BBC: “We want to be absolutely clear that some medium and high risk pregnancies will need to be booked to birth elsewhere to ensure the safety of mum and baby.

“This is not a change we wanted to make but, in the end, it was the only option given the low staff numbers.

“It is critical that we ensure women and children receive safe and sustainable care.”

The changes will start from 18 July.

A campaign group entitled Keep MUM (Maternity Unit for Moray) unsuccessfully pushed to protect services at Dr Gray’s.

Keep MUM chairwoman Kirsty Watson said: “I have grave concerns, for women and babies. How can it ever be safe to go in ambulance when you are in labour, to travel at least a 90-minute journey?

“The staffing issues are not new issues.

“We have had a lot of support. I feel really deflated.”