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9 January 2007

Stevenson Hails "Extremely Useful" Visit To Broadford


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has hailed his fact-finding visit to NHS Highland’s birthing unit at Broadford on the Isle of Skye as “extremely useful”.

The SNP MSP met with Skye & Lochalsh Lead Midwife Rona Scott at the Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital yesterday (Tuesday) for discussions and a tour of the facility.

Health Minister Andy Kerr refused to endorse NHS Grampian’s plans to axe the units at Fraserburgh and Banff and ordered that the Health Board look at providing ‘birth units’ in the towns along the lines of the successful units in place elsewhere in Scotland.

Mt Stevenson had earlier in the year flagged up the success of the units run by NHS Highland, in particular the one at Broadford which had seen a trebling in the number of expectant mothers giving birth in their local area.

Commenting on his fact-finding visit, Mr Stevenson said:

“This was an extremely useful meeting indeed and I am very grateful to Lead Midwife Rona Scott for giving so freely of her time to answer my questions.

“The set-up at Broadford is an excellent example of the type of facility which could work very easily in places such as Banff and Fraserburgh. NHS Grampian have already confirmed to me in discussions last week that the criteria for expectant mothers using a birthing unit would be exactly the same as that for those who currently give birth in their own locality.

“I therefore see no reason why expectant mothers who are ‘low risk’ should not enjoy the benefits of a birthing unit and be able to give birth in their own ommunity without the need for a long and sometimes stressful journey into Aberdeen.

“I was impressed by the dedication of the midwives at Broadford and their commitment to ongoing development of their skills through a series of initiatives. One of NHS Grampian’s key arguments against local units is that 50 births per annum is insufficient to maintain and develop midwifery skills. The midwives at Broadford have shown quite clearly that that can be quite easily overcome and that a valuable – and valued – local service can be maintained.

“I will be making a submission to both NHS Grampian and the Minister for Health based on my findings within the next few days.”

Stewart Stevenson
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