NHS Grampian urged to ‘think again’ on birth unit

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Mid Deeside Community Council has submitted formal objections to proposals by NHS Grampian to close the birth unit at Aboyne Hospital as part of a review of Maternity Services across the region.

At their regular monthly meeting members agreed unanimously to back a submission raising local concerns at the loss of the unit, which was reprieved five years ago following a local campaign.

NHS Grampian is consulting on its proposals for Maternity Services, which would see the creation of Community Maternity Units at Aberdeen, Inverurie and Peterhead, each designed for about 250 births a year.

MDCC says it is concerned that these proposals will reduce the choice available to women on Deeside, particularly as travelling to Inverurie is “almost impossible by public transport and is not easy by private car”.

There are also concerns about parking at Foresterhill for those who would be obliged to travel into Aberdeen.

Members agreed that what is seen as a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not take into account the needs of women and families in a rural area with a low population such as Deeside.

Vice Chairman of the community council, Mick Mallett said: “We were all in total agreement on this issue and feel it is important that we represent the concerns of people in the area over the loss of this highly valued unit.

“There is some good in what the NHS is proposing but we cannot accept that the Aboyne unit needs to be sacrificed to fit the service model that the NHS is promoting.

“The Aboyne unit should be maintained within the overall service, to meet the needs of women and families in the west of Aberdeenshire who are likely to be marginalised by the centralisation of services on Inverurie and Aberdeen.”

In their submission the Community Council adds: “ We do not believe, for women and their families in our area, that the proposed changes will achieve the outcomes sought. Whilst the professionalism of your staff will ensure women will receive the same quality of care and treatment, it will not be closer to home.

All of the issues we have highlighted can be addressed by the simple expedient of maintaining a birth unit at Aboyne and recognising that one size does not fit all. We urge the NHS Grampian Board to listen and respond to the very real concerns of residents within our area, to think again about the proposed changes and recognise the needs of a rural area.”

The consultation will run until March 22 and the community council is urging all local residents to respond and put forward their views.

For copies of the consultation paper and questionnaire go to www.nhsgrampian.org/maternityreview or phone 01224 550950.