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24 November 2009

Stevenson Meets With NHS Grampian Chief Executive on Fraserburgh Birthing Unit

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has met with NHS Grampian Chief Executive Richard Carey to discuss concerns over the continued closure of the Fraserburgh Birthing Unit. Mr Stevenson was joined at the meeting by SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford.

When NHS Grampian proposed closing the maternity unit at Fraserburgh in 2005, Mr Stevenson joined local campaigners on a march in Fraserburgh and met them at the Scottish Parliament when a delegation travelled down to hand in a petition to the then Health Minister, as well as raising the matter in Parliament, meeting with Ministers and speaking at Parliamentary Committees on the subject.

In addition, Mr Stevenson travelled to the Isle of Skye to view the highly successful birthing unit in Broadford and suggested to NHS Grampian that this be considered as an alternative to closure, a move which was ultimately adopted.

Speaking after his meeting with Mr Carey, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a very useful meeting with Mr Carey. I expressed to him the deep concern that exists locally about not only the closure of the birthing unit but also its future. This is a much-valued facility, as was made very clear by the community-led campaign to save the facility and its future must be secured.

“I was very pleased to receive that assurance from Mr Carey and his senior officials who attended the meeting. Mr Carey made it clear that NHS Grampian remains committed to the long-term future of the birthing unit in Fraserburgh, having spent several hundred thousand pounds setting up the facility.

“The key in all of this seems to be the vacant post of Team Leader at the Unit. This is now being advertised nationally in order to attract the right calibre of applicants. Mr Carey was at pains to stress that the Team Leader must be safe and effective in clinical practice as patient safety is – quite rightly - of the highest importance given Fraserburgh’s location as over an hour away from ARI.

“I accept entirely that patient safety must come first, but at the same time, patient care should be delivered locally as far as possible and I re-emphasised the importance of getting the birthing unit open again as soon as safely possible.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

“Given the long struggle to save this facility for the Broch, it is quite understandable that people are suspicious when they see that the birthing unit has been closed for this length of time.

“I think NHS Grampian have been left in no doubt about the strength of feeling locally and I look forward to progress being made towards re-opening the unit for expectant mums from Fraserburgh and district.”

Fraserburgh councillor Brian Topping, who has been supporting the campaign by raising the matter in Aberdeenshire Council said:

“I am very pleased at the commitment which our MSP has secured from NHS Grampian.

“I was proud to support the local mums by getting the council to back their campaign and I will continue to press for the birthing unit to re-open as soon as possible.”

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