Parents increase pressure on Dr Gray’s as paediatric closure looms

PARENTS WITH CHILDREN who require regular treatment at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin are increasing pressure on NHS Grampian to act over their proposed paediatric ward closure.

Last week it was revealed through leaked documents that the health authority would, from Friday this week, no longer accept overnight paediatric patients at the Moray hospital.

Instead, any children requiring an overnight stay in the hospital would need to travel to either the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary or Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Both Moray’s MP Douglas Ross and MSP Richard Lochhead have demanded immediate consultations over the plan, but parents themselves are not waiting and have launched a petition against the closures.

NHS Grampian insist that the measure is a temporary one, forced on them by difficulties in recruiting staff – they have added that it is in no way a financial issue, funding is in place, but purely caused by pressures on staffing levels throughout the service.

However one parent, Lorna Freeman, said last night: “Parents are in fear for their own children’s safety – they are well aware how quickly a child can deteriorate, we need something here in Elgin or as close to Elgin as possible.”

Another with serious concerns is Shonagh Cameron from the Moray Diabetes Parents group, who has particular concerns for children suffering from Type I Diabetes and who can require overnight treatment at any time.

She said: “I am horrified – that there will be nothing in place for my child or for all of the children locally who live with diabetes. One minute a child can be well, the next that child can be needing admitted to a hospital bed.”

Douglas Ross MP is talking to NHS Grampian leaders over the issue and said last night: “It’s a serious concern for parents to think that young children will have to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness – and also the impact that has on families visiting these young children.

“To travel two or two and a half hours to Aberdeen a couple of times a day when potentially they have other young siblings in the family is causing serious concern.”

This morning the online petition raised by concerned parents was already closing in on 3000 signatures – it can be found here.