Cross-party backing for Argyll and Bute maternity campaign

Labour's 2015 UK election candidate for Argyll and Bute, Mary Galbraith.
Labour's 2015 UK election candidate for Argyll and Bute, Mary Galbraith.

A campaign to improve ante-natal scanning services for mums-to-be in Argyll and Bute is winning support from across the political spectrum.

But those backing the campaign - which has been spearheaded by Labour election candidate Mary Galbraith - are also united in their view that an announcement this week from NHS Highland doesn’t go far enough.

Mrs Galbraith, whose petition on the issue has formed a central part of her election campaign, was reacting to NHS Highland’s announcement this week that more funding would be made available to recruit and train staff to carry out scans locally.

“It’s obvious from the announcement that the ‘Mums-to-be Need Local Scans’ campaign has had an impact,” Mrs Galbraith said.

“Thanks to the hundreds of people who signed our petition. It’s good that there is some progress, but what’s being proposed looks like it’s too little, and too slow.

“Nothing will change for well over a year. I’m disappointed the announcement doesn’t even mention that only three midwives will be trained to do scanning. Which three places won’t have local trained personnel on-site, and how can services be assured with such a small team for the whole area? If they think this is a good news story, why is the Health Board hiding these crucial details?

“There are now too many unanswered questions. I’ll be writing to the Health Board and the Minister, Shona Robison asking for responses.

“While I’m pleased we can chalk this up this partial victory, the campaign continues. It would also be good too to hear from the other candidates, and whether they support our campaign. The silence from some of them is disappointing. How can they claim to represent the interests of people across the whole area yet have nothing to say about this vital service for local women?”

Local Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid expressed a similar view, saying: “I welcome the decision by NHS Highland to allocate money to recruit and train midwives to develop local scanning services for expectant mothers.

“However there is still a long time to wait – 18 months at least according to the health board - and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I have asked the Health Board to explain what services will be provided and at which hospitals.

“Progress so far has been slow. It is now over a year since the NHS withdrew these vital services and forced expectant mothers to travel to Glasgow for their scans and 11 months since I first wrote to the health board about it.

“I hope that we will see speedier progress in future to return maternity scanning to all local hospitals.”

The campaign has also received support from Conservative quarters - specifically the party’s local candidate Alastair Redman and Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor.

Mr McGrigor is to table a question on the subject in the Scottish Parliament in early March.

* More from Mrs Galbraith in the new edition of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, February 26.