MP urges Scottish Government to provide safety audit for expectant mothers
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NORTH MP Jamie Stone has called on the Scottish Government to provide a safety audit for expectant mothers having to make the 200-mile round journey between Caithness and Inverness.
He was speaking after it emerged that a Caithness mum had been left in "excruciating pain" after travelling from Wick to Raigmore to give birth.
Mr Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said: “Following the downgrading of maternity services in Caithness, more and more mothers are being forced to make a last-minute journey to Inverness while in labour.
“Earlier this year a mother gave birth to twin boys 52 miles apart and now we have a mother left in excruciating pain due to the lack of local facilities.
“Despite repeatedly asking the Scottish Government for a safety audit during my first two years as an MP I have never received a response. How many more incidents is it going to take before the SNP Government takes note and does something to ensure the safety of mothers in my constituency?
“No woman should have to face this when giving birth. I have been raising the issue of the distances faced by mothers in the far north at every opportunity and it is shameful that the Scottish Government continues to fail to act.”
According to a report in a daily newspaper this week, an expectant mother from Wick said she had been left for nearly two full days in labour without a check-up or pain relief.
I have been raising this at every opportunity and it is shameful that the Scottish Government continues to fail to act.
She and her partner, it was reported, were told they would have to go to Inverness because of the size of their unborn baby. They checked in to Raigmore’s accommodation complex Kyle Court but claimed no-one from the hospital came to see them that day or the next.
After going to the hospital for a booked induction birth, they reportedly had to sit for a further four hours in a waiting room because of a lack of beds.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Mr Stone received a detailed reply to his questions regarding safety of maternity services in NHS Highland from the minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, on March 7 this year.
“It is essential women in Scotland, including those in more remote and rural areas, receive a safe, high-quality service from our NHS. The decision by NHS Highland to change Caithness maternity unit to a midwifery unit was made on the grounds of safety, informed by a review they commissioned after the tragic death of a child in September 2015.
“In addition, as part of the implementation of the Best Start review of maternity and neonatal services, we have convened a transport expert group to examine the transfer of pregnant women and newborn babies, with a specific focus on remote and rural transfer.”
We would encourage the family to get in touch with our lead midwife so we can investigate this properly.
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: "NHS Highland regularly monitors maternity services across our board area to ensure we continue to deliver high-quality, safe care to pregnant women and their babies. We have not been contacted and would certainly want to look into it.
"We would encourage the family to get in touch with our lead midwife so we can investigate this properly. The health board has systems in place to investigate and learn from any adverse events which do occur.
"While we are unable to comment on individual cases, risk assessment is undertaken by doctors and midwives on a case-by-case basis and throughout pregnancy the midwife will discuss with the woman, as part of her birth plan, the travel and transport arrangements for getting to hospital.
"The majority of pregnant women, including those who live at a distance, plan effectively and make their way to hospital in time, when labour begins."