A recent meeting between members of the Galloway Hospital Action Group and local MSPs with Scottish Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd has been described as “positive” by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth. However, the local MSP warned that the “warm words” from the Minister must lead to action by the Scottish Government and NHS Dumfries and Galloway that leads to the return of inpatient births at the Galloway Hospital.
The meeting, requested by the Galloway Hospital Action Group supported by a cross party group of local MSPs, took place last week to discuss the midwife recruitment problems which led to midwife led births being suspended at the Clenoch Birthing Centre four years ago.
Commenting after the meeting on Friday Colin Smyth said, “It was a positive and at times a hugely emotional meeting with local mums sharing their own traumatic experiences of the current unacceptable situation where they have to travel to Dumfries to have an inpatient birth in hospital. The Minister certainly sounded sympatric to their plight but ultimately we need warm words turned into action. There needs to be a very clear commitment that the aim from both the Health Board and the Scottish Government is to re-open the Clenoch Birthing Centre at the Galloway Hospital and a concerted effort made to recruit the midwifes to ensure that can happen. I accept this isn’t easy, especially in rural areas, because we do have a recruitment crisis in nursing and midwifery across the country that stretches back to long before the pandemic. But if we cannot develop a proper strategy to increase the number of midwifes we train, when we actually have a University campus in the region that teaches nursing and midwifery, then it really does show what a mess NHS workforce planning is in. There are Community Maternity Units across the country in areas similar in size and population to Wigtownshire and there is no reason why our area should be treated differently”.