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Rhoda Grant concerned that Humza Yousaf is not taking on board the plight of Caithness women travelling a 200 mile round trip to give birth at Raigmore

By Jean Gunn

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Rhoda Grant outside Raigmore Hosptial in Inverness.
Rhoda Grant outside Raigmore Hosptial in Inverness.

North MSP Rhoda Grant is supporting an independent maternity review of Caithness and has called for Scottish health secretary Humaz Yousaf to be involved in local discussions.

She voiced her concern about the plight of mums to be in Caithness travelling a round trip of 200 miles to give birth at Raigmore following the publication of an open letter from senior medical staff at the hospital who branded plans to let more pregnant Moray women give birth in Inverness as "unworkable" and "unsafe".

Commenting on the local maternity service the Labour regional MSP said: "When it comes to Caithness, it is thoroughly disappointing and frustrating that Mr Yousaf hasn’t taken on board the situation for women there having to travel a round trip of 200 miles to give birth if they are at risk.

"Moreover, the reply to CHAT, when it asked for an independent review, was written by a Scottish Government official, not the health secretary himself.

"For the Government to say it is not possible to draw parallels from the findings of the Moray review for the situation in Caithness is just incredible.

"I support an independent review for Caithness and Mr Yousaf should be meeting the community to discuss this.”

The MSP previously highlighted that there were 365 whole time nurse and midwifery vacancies at NHS Highland and at NHS Grampian 465 vacant posts, while there was a lack of paediatricians.

"So, it comes as no surprise to me that Raigmore Hospital has no capacity or staff for expanding its maternity service," she said. "However, it comes as a total surprise that clinicians and senior nurses at the hospital were not consulted properly about the new proposals."

The letter to the health secretary about the Moray maternity services was written by a team of 18 consultant obstetricians and senior charge midwives from Raigmore.

They stated that the Inverness hospital did not have the facilities or staff to deal with any extra births. Their concerns were raised following the review of maternity services at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin, which were downgraded in 2018 due to staff shortages.

Mrs Grant has called on the health secretary to provide an urgent response following the publication of the letter.

She said: "For 18 senior clinicians at Raigmore maternity unit to say they were never consulted on plans to send Moray women to Raigmore is a shocking indictment of the review process.

"The health secretary must immediately explain how he and his predecessor allowed this to happen, and how it impacts on the report's recommendations.

"The open letter confirms what most of us already know – that Raigmore does not have capacity to take on large numbers of women from a neighbouring health board. The only viable solution is to reinstate consultant maternity services at Dr Gray's.

"I will continue to work alongside Keep MUM to give women in Moray the maternity services they so urgently need."

Meanwhile health campaigners in Caithness are continuing the call for an independent review of maternity and women's health services in the county.

When a report on the Dr Gray's review was given in December, CHAT chairman Ron Gunn said: "Our friends in Moray, Keep MUM, successfully campaigned for their review and if Humza Yousaf, the health secretary, thinks it's unacceptable for Moray mothers to travel to Aberdeen to give birth, how is it acceptable for 90 per cent of north mums to travel 110 miles to Inverness to give birth?"

Read more: Raigmore Hospital medics raise 'enormous concerns' over maternity services with Scottish Government health secretary, the SNP's Humza Yousaf, in response to plans for more Moray women to give birth in Inverness instead of Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin

Edward Mountain: It's unfair to ignore hazards faced by Caithness mums

We hope things will start to go in the right direction

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