Wednesday 2 August 2006
NHS Grampian has been criticised for announcing plans for a midwife to look after drug addicts while ending births at rural baby units.
The midwife will help pregnant addicts in Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Banff and Turriff.
Mothers have been told they will no longer be able to give birth at Aboyne, Banff and Huntly, while Fraserburgh maternity will merge with Peterhead.
Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson described it as bad timing.
A similar post to help addict mothers already exists in Aberdeen.
NHS Grampian said drug addicted women can often need additional support when they are pregnant and there was a need for the midwife.
Campaigners have vowed to fight on after losing the latest stage of their battle to save rural maternity services in Aberdeenshire.
NHS Grampian recommended stopping the services amid declining birth rates. The plans must now be approved by the health minister.
Mr Stevenson said the addict midwife news was very poor timing.
He told BBC Scotland: "At a time when they are cutting back on investment on midwives it seems quite astonishing they should be hiring a new midwife to help drug addict mothers.
"NHS Grampian has to recognise the need for maternity support in communities."
NHS Grampian said that after recommending ending births at some rural units, all communities would be treated equally due to an even geographical spread of services.
Ante and post natal care is expected to continue at all four units.
One mother, Clare Dow, 32, from Kintore, said of the ongoing campaign: "You have got to hope we can still win.
"I feel quite strongly about it - it's about freedom of choice."
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MSP Mike Rumbles vowed to take the fight to save Aboyne to the Scottish Executive.
He said: "It's really not acceptable that health boards make this sort of decision after public consultation makes it clear how valuable these services are.
"Expectant mums should be able to have a choice.
"I have written to [Health Minister] Andy Kerr asking for a meeting so that I can have the opportunity to explain to him why NHS Grampian is wrong to limit the choice of expectant mothers in this way."
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