Statement from Labour MSP Rhoda Grant following Health Secretary’s statement to Scottish Parliament today on Dr Gray’s Hospital, Elgin

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said the Scottish Government’s announcement threw money at the situation but didn’t solve the underlying problem of the shortage of nurses, midwives and doctors as highlighted by NHS workers at Raigmore Hospital and by the unions.

In the Scottish Parliament today, Mrs Grant, said:

“While I welcome the promise to reinstate consultant led maternity services in Dr Gray’s and the much-needed investment at Dr Gray’s and Raigmore, I cannot welcome this so called short term option.

“The Cabinet Sectary tells us he is listening to what those involved are telling him, but he is obviously not hearing what they say.

“Clinicians from NHS Highland wrote to him in February saying with regard to NHS Highland: ‘The Board did acknowledge on this occasion that the staffing and built environmental requirements for Model 4 cannot be met in the timescale proposed by the Report …i.e. within two years.’

“This is of profound significance as it confirms that Model 4 not an option for the short term.

“In addition, (they say) their lead paediatrician gave his opinion that the neonatal facility is at capacity and that any increase in the birth rate at Raigmore before major upgrading to staffing and facilities will put babies at risk.

“They went on to make the point clearly that neither was this a feasible option, because they were unable to currently fill staffing vacancies and existing staff were facing burn out.

“Many of these points were also made to him by the Chief Executive and community campaigners in Moray at meetings that I also attended.

“He must reconsider because what he is proposing is simply not safe. Can he outline what he is going to do in the short term to keep mums safe?”

Mrs Grant also paid tribute to all those who came forward to give their views to the independent review, including Keep Mum campaign group and others from the community.

After the meeting Mrs Grant added:

“Across Scotland nearly 10% of all nursing and midwifery posts are vacant, a record high of 6,674, including nearly 4,500 Registered Nurse vacancies. More locally, in NHS Highland, 341 nursing and midwifery posts are vacant, which is nine per cent of posts.

RCN Scotland’s survey showed that a worrying six in 10 of its members were thinking about or actively considering leaving their jobs, suggesting these figures are only going to get worse without urgent action.

“I can’t see how Mr Yousaf is going to square that circle and although there is a time frame for the interim solution there is none for the reintroducing the consultant-led system at Dr Gray’s.

“While it is good news that Mr Yousaf has pledged to meet Caithness health campaigners, they will be looking at this wondering if the Health Secretary is considering their ambition to bring obstetric and paediatric services back to Wick. They need to know what the Scottish Government’s policy is for their area.”