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Daily Record
Daily Record
Stuart Gillespie

Galloway Community Hospital campaigners push for independent review into maternity services

Campaigners are pushing the Scottish Government for an independent review into maternity services in the west of the region.

The testimony of one Galloway mum left those taking part in a meeting with Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd “wiping away tears” on Friday.

She held talks with members of the Galloway Community Hospital Action Group and local politicians to discuss the birthing suite at Stranraer’s hospital.

The unit has been closed since 2018 due to a staffing shortage, resulting in situations where women have given birth in lay-bys on the A75 while on their way to Dumfries Infirmary.

Following the meeting a spokeswoman for the campaign group said: “We ask that the government conducts or instructs an independent review of Wigtownshire maternity services without delay.

“This would bring equity for Wigtownshire patients in parallel with the reviews promised to patients in Moray and Caithness.

“They group also seeks an independent risk assessment for a woman in labour travelling 75 miles in a car from Stranraer to Dumfries to give birth.”

Friday’s meeting heard from Glenluce mum Claire Fleming who has had four pregnancies – one of which was a stillbirth when she had to travel to Dumfries to deliver the stillborn baby.

Claire has also miscarried three times and had to travel to Dumfries each time.

The spokeswoman added: “Everyone present at the meeting had to wipe away tears after listening to Claire’s story.”

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson, Councillor Jackie McCamon and a representative of MSP Emma Harper also took part in the meeting.

Maree Todd MSP Minister for Public Health (PA)

Mr Carson said: “I was heartened to hear from the minister herself that she fully understood the difficulties facing pregnant women living in both remote and rural areas.

“I welcome that in her opinion a community maternity unit – a midwife led maternity unit – should be the standard to achieve in Stranraer. That is certainly something I and many others have been campaigning to see happen as quickly as possible.

“While I understand that Ms Todd may wish to wait until the local health board produces their review on maternity services across the region, the report must be transparent and not be written to deliver a recommendation which many suspect would cement NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s current preferred position, that Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary to be the only maternity unit in the region.”

Mr Smyth added: “There needs to be a very clear commitment that the aim from both the health board and the Scottish Government is to reopen the Clenoch Birthing Centre at the Galloway Hospital and a concerted effort made to recruit the midwives to ensure that can happen.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:“NHS Dumfries and Galloway is undertaking work locally to consider the situation and explore possible options for the service and they are leading on providing the response to the integration joint board.

“Scottish Government officials and professional leads are in contact with NHS Dumfries and Galloway to discuss the issue and explore what support might be provided.”

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it plans to hold a further meeting with the action group on the matter after it was raised at a full council meeting.

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