A petition launched to stop the planned change in maternity facilities at a north-east hospital has gathered more than 10,000 signatures.
NHS Grampian announced the changes to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin after a number of staffing issues there.
The new plans, which are to be put in place from July 16, would see the clinic become a midwife-led service, making it unsuitable for expectant mothers who are dealing with complications.
The petition, which has accumulated 9,502 signatures since it launched five days ago, states: “We believe NHS Grampian’s decision to downgrade the maternity unit at Dr Gray’s to a midwife-only department risks the safety and wellbeing of mothers, their babies and sick children in Moray.
“We urge ministers and MSPs to review NHS Grampian and reconsider sending expectant mothers with medium to high-risk pregnancies on long journeys to Aberdeen or Inverness.”
The group Keep MUM – Keep the Maternity Unit for Moray – is planning to protest against the plans this Saturday on the Plainstones, in Elgin, from noon.
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We understand this is an anxious time for expectant mums – and indeed the wider community – in Moray.
“A drop-in event will take place in Elgin this week, with another event planned for next week – the venue is still to be confirmed.
“Our chief executive and medical director are arranging to meet directly with the Keep MUM group to discuss the issues they are raising.
“Our priority at all times is to provide a safe and sustainable service for women and their babies.
“The process of discussing options with people on an individual basis is now well under way. “Midwives continue to get in touch with women, particularly those due to give birth within six weeks being the immediate priority.
“As announced at the end of last week, women who are booked to give birth at Dr Gray’s will now be able to be transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness if, following clinical assessment during labour, birth or after delivery, the need arises for care to be referred to a consultant level unit.”