Dr Gray’s Maternity Unit

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Douglas Ross is absolutely correct to raise those points. For those who have been in that position—whether they are the mothers who are giving birth or the fathers waiting anxiously in the room—there cannot be a worse moment for that journey to be undertaken. Douglas Ross is right that there is a safety issue. That is why, once again, I fully recommit the Scottish Government to the restoration in full of those consultant-led maternity services at Dr Gray’s.

Douglas Ross and Karen Adam were right to push the Government in relation to milestones and timescales. I can hear the exasperation in the voices of the members—no doubt the Keep MUM campaign group will feel the same—that another review has been commissioned. I am delighted that, as Douglas Ross and others have mentioned in their speeches, the review led by Ralph Roberts has been welcomed. The remit, thoroughness and, importantly, engagement of that review have been welcomed. We must remember that that engagement has been taking place during the Covid pandemic. Having spoken to Ralph Roberts, I know that he would have preferred to have been able to engage personally and one to one, but perhaps there will be an opportunity to do that as restrictions ease.

I will not pre-empt the independent review—if I did, it would not be particularly independent—but it should be concluded in late summer, so hopefully it will not be too long at all. We will consider the recommendations and set out the milestones and timescales, exactly as Douglas Ross has asked us to do. I understand the need for urgency and we will move as quickly as we can.

I am conscious of time, but I want to cover the point that Edward Mountain raised about the issues in Caithness, although I will not go into the details of those issues. Mr Mountain probably has the details of the best start programme but, if he does not, I would be happy to write to him with details on the best start north review that was commissioned jointly by NHS Grampian and NHS Highland. In recognition of the unique nature and complexity of delivering maternity and neonatal services in the north of Scotland, that collaborative approach was established to examine the model of care in the north, in consultation with local people, to develop the best possible sustainable model for the future.

I will take away the issues that Mr Mountain raises about Caithness. I will ensure that I ask whether they are part of that best start north review and I will write to him after the debate.