PLANS have been approved to improve maternity and paediatric services at Moray’s flagship hospital.
Services were downgraded at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin due to recruitment problems, leaving women with medium or high-risk pregnancies travelling to Aberdeen or Inverness to give birth.
Hospital bosses have been working on an action plan since last summer with the aim of returning to a full maternity service over the next 11 months with more staff recruited.
They have also proposed opening up a 24-hour short stay paediatric assessment unit.
Under the plans, children needing longer care would be transferred to the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
The action plan has now been approved by the Scottish Government.
Members of the public will be now be given the chance to view the six options tabled in the action plan at a series of upcoming engagement events.
NHS Grampian said it had already started training and recruiting more than a dozen extra specialists.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I welcome NHS Grampian’s phase two plan for the redesign of obstetric and paediatric services at Dr Gray’s Hospital.
“I have now given my approval for the board to move forward with the next stage of this process.”
The health board launched a new recruitment campaign in Kinloss on Wednesday with the aim of attracting medically-trained partners of RAF personnel moving to the area.
Sue Swift, women and children’s divisional general manager, said: “While this is an evolving plan that will need to be further refined and updated following public feedback on the paediatric model and the detailed financial analysis that will take place over the next couple of months, the approval from the Scottish Government is a welcome step forward.”
SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: “This is a positive step forward in terms of getting a full consultant-led maternity service back up and running in Elgin. However there is no room for complacency and everyone involved in the delivery of the plan must keep the foot on the gas to ensure that they stick to the agreed timetable.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “This update brings us closer to ending the uncertainty and worry for pregnant women in Moray about whether they might have to travel to Aberdeen to give birth but it also confirms it will still be another year before we see a full maternity service return in spring 2020.”