FEARS ARE BEING EXPRESSED over the future of the Maternity Unit at Dr Gray’s Hospital with staff being told that they will be accepting just a third of their current level of patients.
Staffing shortages have been a major issue for the Moray hospital but hopes were raised earlier this week following a meeting between Moray’s MP Douglas Ross and the Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, Malcolm Wright.
Mr Wright highlighted to the MP several areas where improvements had been made or where in the process of being made.
However, insideMoray now understands that Dr Gray’s are struggling to find doctors for their Maternity Unit – with the result that it is to be downgraded to a midwife only service from as soon as the beginning of August.
A member of staff who did not wish to be named told us: “This is being painted as a temporary measure – but there have been fears that it would happen since the building of a new unit at Inverurie.
“It would mean that only the very low-risk births will be accepted at Dr Gray’s and there would only be cover from a doctor from 9am to 5pm. This means that less than one third of the deliveries currently being handled at Dr Gray’s would be accepted.
“This information was given to staff on shift who were expected to disseminate it to colleagues, rather than at a general meeting. The result is staff morale is now very low – people are getting nervous about redundancy although they have been told that this is not going to happen in the short term.”
Last night Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead said that he was alarmed to learn of the threat to the Maternity Unit.
He said: “I have received assurances in recent months from NHS Grampian in relation to the future of the Maternity Unit at Dr Gray’s, which is highly valued by the people of Moray.
“I am therefore alarmed at any suggestion it may be significantly downgraded. Any such plans will be resisted and I am in touch with local staff, as well as NHS Grampian, to make that clear and to ascertain the scale of any threat.”
Late last night Moray’s MP Douglas Ross contacted NHS Grampian chief executive Malcom Wright to discuss the issue – and was able to provide some reassurance for staff and patients at the Elgin hospital.
Mr Ross said: “I have received a categorical assurance from the Chief Executive of NHS Grampian that there are no plans to permanently downgrade the maternity unit at Dr Gray’s.
“The temporary arrangements which are being considered are because of a shortage of junior doctors due to come to this area next month. I have also been told that the health board will continue to work on this issue in the coming days to hopefully avert the need to seek a temporary solution.
“The last consultation on maternity services in Grampian confirmed that Moray should have a consultant led service and I will be doing everything possible to ensure that level of service is maintained.
“While I understand this will be a difficult and concerning time for staff I hope we can find a solution to continue the outstanding service provided for families at Dr Gray’s. I would also assure everyone connected with this unit that I would fight against any plans to permanently reduce the level of maternity service provided from Dr Gray’s.”