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by Louise Wilson
30 March 2022
No date for Dr Gray’s maternity upgrade

No date for Dr Gray’s maternity upgrade

No date has been set for the restoration of consultant-led maternity services at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament today, health secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed the Scottish Government will seek a return to these services after the hospital was downgraded in 2018.

And he said it would be a priority to provide the women of Moray maternity services as close to home as possible, as soon as possible.

But he failed to provide a timeline or any milestones for the plan.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the commitment to restore Dr Gray’s was included in the SNP’s manifesto last year, adding: “My fear is we are still a long way off from the restoration of that service.”

Ross has spoken previously about his wife having to be taken by ambulance to Aberdeen to give birth to their son James.

The couple had to leave the hospital just eight hours after the birth, travelling two hours back to their home in Moray with the newborn.

James later had to spend a week in the Royal Sick Kids Hospital in Aberdeen and Ross said he wonders if it was related to that journey.

He told the chamber: “Shortly after he was born, James spent almost a week under the excellent care at the Royal Sick Kids Hospital in Aberdeen because he had breathing issues and chest problems. Ever since then I’ve had to wonder, is it because of that journey he was forced to make, as such an infant child, did that have a contribution to his problems a few weeks later?

“Every time I saw him in hospital, being fed with a tube down his nose and getting oxygen pumped into him, so helpless, I had to wonder could that have been avoided if he was able to be born in Elgin and just be 10 or 15 minutes away from home.”

He raised concerns about the lack of investment in Dr Gray’s prior to its downgrade, adding: “We’ve got no timescales, no milestones. We need a date.”

The health secretary replied it was important to “work backwards” from the ambition to restore the service to figure out resources needed before setting a timescale.

Yousaf said: “I hope this will see 80 to 90 per cent of Moray births taking place at Dr Gray’s on the realisation of a consultant-led model, similar to the numbers that were taking place prior to the changes made in 2018.”

He confirmed an initial £5m would be provided to the hospital to move forward with the changed.

An additional £5m will also be given to Raigmore Hospital to redevelop maternity services there.

Labour’s Rhoda Grant warned that the plans being put forward were not short-term solutions and called for more to be done to make services safer sooner.

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