Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has backed calls for an urgent independent review into midwifery services in Wigtownshire.

Dr Gordon Baird and the Galloway Hospital Action Group have been campaigning for years for improvements to health services in the area, including midwifery. It’s almost four years since staff shortages at the birthing centre in the Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer meant it was no longer able to carry out in-hospital births, resulting in mums to be having to travel to Dumfries if they wanted to give birth in hospital.

In the summer, a meeting between members of the Galloway Hospital Action Group, local MSPs and Scottish Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd was held to discuss the midwife recruitment problems which led to midwife led to births being suspended at the Clenoch Birthing Centre. The Minister has now committed to continuing the discussion with local politicians, the NHS and members of the Galloway Hospital Action Group when she visits the Galloway Hospital on 31 October. However, Colin Smyth has given his support to calls for a full independent review of maternity services in the west of the region.

Colin Smyth said: “I completely back the call for an urgent independent review into maternity services in Wigtownshire from Dr Baird and the Galloway Hospital Action Group.

“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.

“It’s nearly four years since in-hospital births ended at the Galloway and the fact the Scottish Government hasn’t developed a proper strategy in that time to increase the number of midwifes we train, when we actually have a University campus in the region that teaches nursing and midwifery, 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.

“It is utterly unacceptable that women in Wigtownshire face the real fear of having to give birth in a lay-by en route to hospital in Dumfries, which is two hours away, because the community maternity unit on their doorstep is closed.

“Other parts of Scotland have seen independent reviews into maternity services and it’s clear the time is right for that to happen in Wigtownshire.”

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