Moray MP Douglas Ross has reiterated his concerns for local women in labour who have to be transferred to Aberdeen, following the announcement that snow gates are to be installed on the A96.
Many women are currently transferred from Moray to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while in labour and the fact the road now requires physical snow gates to close the road again serves as a reminder of how unsuitable the current situation is for pregnant women and their families.
Douglas said: "Bear Scotland have announced they are planning to install snowgates on the A96 on the eastern and western sides of the Glens of Foudland.
"This means that if we have any snow the road could be closed at short notice and that would be awful for any women in Moray who are having to be transferred in labour to the maternity hospital in Aberdeen. There would be a very real risk of people giving birth on the A96 in the back of an ambulance.
“I made this journey myself earlier this year when Krystle was transferred in labour as she gave birth to James. It was a horrible journey, but at least we were fortunate it was during the summer. The fact these gates are needed just shows how quickly the weather can make the road unpassable.
"This highlights how essential it is for the return to a consultant-led maternity unit at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin. I hope that the independent review into maternity services at Dr Gray's, which is due to be submitted to the Scottish Government imminently, takes account of women's safety. Far too many Moray women and their families are making this journey and we need to see more women able to give birth closer to home in Dr Gray’s.
"It is now three years since our maternity services were downgraded. At the time we were promised that things would be resolved in a year, yet here we are with the prospect of another winter and women still having to be transferred in sometimes horrendous weather.
"If snow gates are shut without warning, what will happen to women already en route and for those in labour in Elgin where a decision is taken that they have to be transferred to Aberdeen?
"It is simply unacceptable, and I hope that NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government take the action needed to stop women in Moray being put in danger by having to travel for up to two hours to give birth.”