THE maternity services at Moray’s flagship hospital are being downgraded - for at least a year.
The worst fears of campaigners have been realised with the news that a temporary model for women and children’s services at Dr Gray’s will see only low risk births automatically going ahead.
Mothers deemed medium and high risk will be advised to deliver in Aberdeen and the hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit will, again, close.
Angry mums have called on the Scottish Government to intervene in a move to protect the area’s specialist unit.
The change will take effect from July 18 and has been blamed on ongoing staffing problems. Just two trainee doctors have so far elected to work in Moray in the August intake – six less than required. NHS Grampian said the final allocation will be known by the end of July and recruitment is ongoing.
The Children’s ward will remain closed to overnight admission, with the situation reviewed once the final allocation of trainee doctors is known.
Sue Swift, divisional manager for the women and children’s service, said the new model had been drawn up to ensure safety and stability is maintained.
She said: "This is not a change we wanted to make but, in the end, it was the only option given the low staff numbers."
Keep MUM (Maternity Unit for Moray) campaigner Kirsty Watson expressed her extreme disappointment.
She said: "Over recent weeks and months we have received reassurances on the future of the maternity unit at Dr Gray’s.
"NHS Grampian must explain to the people of Moray exactly what they did and are doing to recruit staff for the specialist unit. We now need clarity on the plan going forward and how the appropriate services for our area can be reinstated and when.
"Meantime, we are gravely concerned about the safety and wellbeing of mothers, their babies and sick children in Moray. We look to the Scottish Government to investigate the actions of NHS Grampian in relation to the specialist unit in Moray."
For more on this story see Friday, July 6 edition of the ‘The Northern Scot’.