8 January 2007

Stevenson Takes Maternity Campaign To The Highlands


Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson will embark on the next stage of the campaign to secure maternity facilities for Fraserburgh and Banff tomorrow (Tuesday) when he visits the birth unit operated by NHS Highland at Broadford.

Last month, maternity campaigners were delivered a huge boost when Health Minister Andy Kerr refused to endirse 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 written to NHS Grampian in April 2006 urging them to look at 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, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Minister for Health in his response to NHS Grampian sent a clear message that he wanted to see maternity services in some shape or form continue in Fraserburgh and Banff.

“The type of birth units which the Minister referred to have been working very successfully in the NHS Highland area for some years now. I have therefore arranged with NHS Highland to go on a fact-finding mission to visit one of their units and to see for myself what lessons we can learn from them.

“This is a very useful example because it tells us two things. Firstly, it confirms that given the choice, expectant mothers will choose to have their babies locally rather than travel. Secondly, it shows that a revamped service on Skye has led to a trebling of births in the unit. Thirdly, and more importantly in terms of the campaign, it shows that a unit can be viable at a fairly low level – at the Broadford unit on Skye, we are talking about 24 births per year.

“At Fraserburgh and Banff we are talking about annual figures in excess of 50. If the unit in Broadford can be run successfully and safely at that level then there is no reason why that system cannot be deployed in the North-east.”

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