Douglas Ross: I feared my wife would give birth in ambulance in layby
The Scottish Conservative leader and his wife, Krystle, welcomed the birth of their second son, James, last week after an emergency hospital transfer because the baby’s heart rate was “dipping”.
In an interview with the Press and Journal newspaper, Mr Ross told how medics at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin were concerned about the child’s heartbeat after Krystle had been experiencing contractions for two days.
The decision was made to take her by ambulance for the 65-mile journey to the specialist Aberdeen Maternity Hospital because Dr Gray’s is now only able to carry out midwife-led births.
Mr Ross set off first because of the wait for an ambulance but was soon overtaken by it, with his partner; a paramedic; a midwife; a trainee midwife and two ambulance drivers on board.
Describing the drive as one of the “worst I’ve ever had”, he told the paper: “The midwife was quite open with me to say the worst-case scenario is the labour does speed up quite significantly and they’d have to pull over.
“So I’d have to be on the road somewhere so I could follow them into a lay-by if that was necessary. Thankfully it wasn’t.
“But all these things go through your mind. First of all, I was driving from Elgin and kept looking in my rear view mirror to see her coming and it felt like it was never coming but, obviously, it took a while to leave the hospital.
“Then once it overtook, I found it quite emotional to think in that ambulance with the blue lights and sirens going was my wife in labour and our child and not able to be with them or comfort her.
“Everything was going through my mind and it’s only in retrospect I thought, was I in a good condition to drive through, myself?
“It was a lovely summer’s evening. I can’t imagine what that’s like in the height of winter when there’s snow drifts and there could be accidents on that road – it could be closed – and all the stories that constituents have told me about that journey just came flooding back.”
Despite arriving at the wrong part of the Foresterhill complex, Mr Ross was eventually directed to the maternity hospital to be reunited with his wife.
James was eventually born at 1.45am on June 30, just under six hours after leaving the Elgin hospital where their first son, Alistair, was born in 2019.
Mr Ross explained that most families in Moray have been forced to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth since a staffing crisis triggered a temporary downgrade in June 2018, from consultant-led to midwife-led births.
As the MP for Elgin, and an MSP for North East Scotland, Mr Ross is expected to meet with the team conducting the Independent Review into Moray maternity services in Elgin on Wednesday.