In August 2018, maternity services at Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin were downgraded. In November of that year, the chief medical officer’s advisory group reported that NHS Grampian must produce a comprehensive plan and a clear timetable for the restoration of those services. It is now certain that the issue will not be resolved by the end of this year, as was pledged, meaning another winter of expectant mothers and their families travelling from Moray to hospitals in Inverness and Aberdeen for vital care. Local campaigners are concerned that the revised timetable to restore services by spring
2020 also shows little sign of being met.
Can the First Minister tell us why those clear timetables are being missed and what she will do about it?
I thank the member for raising what I know is an important issue in that part of Scotland. We want mothers to deliver their babies as close to home as is safely possible. The issues around maternity services at Dr Gray’s are issues of patient safety. Patient safety has guided decisions up until now and patient safety will guide decisions from here on. The health secretary remains in close contact with the health board about the issues around the restoration of those services, but patient safety will continue to be the guiding principle. I think that everybody would understand and expect that to be the case.