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14 December 2006

Health Minister tells NHS Grampian To "Think Again" On Maternity Units

STEVENSON WELCOMES REBUFF FOR HEALTH BOARD’S CLOSURE PLANS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the response of the Health Minister Andy Kerr to NHS Grampian’s plans to axe the maternity units at Banff and Fraserburgh. In a rebuff to the Health Board, the Minister has pointed the Board in the direction of ‘birth-units’ which are already proving popular in other parts of rural Scotland.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Minister’s rebuff to NHS Grampian’s plans to axe local maternity units is excellent news indeed. Of course, I would have preferred it if the Minister had rejected the plans outright, but as things stand, we now have a very good chance of getting birth-units in Fraserburgh and Banff similar to those which have been working very well for some time in the NHS Highland area.

“It is clear that the Minister wishes to see continued, if redesigned, maternity services in Banff and Fraserburgh.

“Indeed, in Skye and Lochalsh, the number of babies being delivered locally has trebled from 2003 as a result of their new unit.”

Turning to NHS Grampian’s claim in their statement that their plans were “very much in line with the redevelopment of services nationally”, Mr Stevenson continued:

“For NHS Grampian to claim that their strategy on this is in line with national policy smacks of desperate PR spin to me. It has been clearly demonstrated by the Minister’s response that, on maternity services, NHS Grampian is woefully out of step with national policy which is that health services should be delivered locally.

“Today’s announcement is a significant victory for the ladies who have campaigned in Banff and Fraserburgh – who I’ve been proud to host on visits to Parliament several times as part of that campaign - and I send them my congratulations on their deserved success.

“The next step is to build on our very strong case and I am confident that we can secure a continuation of services in Fraserburgh for expectant mothers.”

Stewart Stevenson
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