The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)

Midwives’ body chief in the dark over maternity closure

MSP Alex Johnstone pledges to raise the matter in parliament

- Graeme sTrachan

The Royal College of Midwives has said it was kept in the dark over the sudden closure of Montrose Maternity Unit for births.

Mums-to-be were told they will not be able to give birth there until September after staff shortages forced NHS Tayside to make the “difficult decision.”

The health authority was criticised after the news was made public less than 24 hours before Tuesday’s closure.

Jackie Mitchell, national officer for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said she only found out about the developmen­ts when she was made aware of The Courier’s coverage of the move.

“It’s quite disappoint­ing that they have to suspend births because it is a very popular maternity unit,” she said.

“This was news to me that they planned to close this unit but the priority is the safety of mums and babies.

“I don’t know if the situation with the staffing has suddenly come to a head and it has come to the point where they can’t sustain the service 24/7.

“NHS Tayside is part of my patch but it was not something I was aware of until I read the press.

“That is quite unsettling for mums – especially those who are due in the next few weeks – to be given this news at such short notice.”

She said there is currently a review of maternity services in Scotland but she was not aware of “any discussion­s to close Montrose”.

“There are midwife shortages particular­ly in Grampian and the Highlands and there has been an increase in the number of students entered into the programme to try and balance that out,” she said.

There have been doubts over the unit since the temporary closure of Montrose Royal Infirmary in April 2014 due to the failure of heating and water systems.

A demand for assurances over the Montrose Infirmary GP ward’s future in 2013 was backed by a 400-name petition calling for “no more excuses”.

North East Conservati­ve MSP Alex Johnstone said he will now raise the temporary closure for births with Health Secretary Shona Robison.

He said: “With the unit apparently under threat just a year ago, patients deserve better than this kind of uncertaint­y.

“I am lodging written questions in the Scottish Parliament, and I intend to raise it with the minister at the earliest opportunit­y.”

“This was news to me that they planned to close this unit but the priority is the safety of mums and babies. JACKIE MITCHELL NATIONAL OFFICER

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