Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has written to NHS Grampian Acting Chief Executive, Malcolm Wright following reports of Orkney constituents being unable to access the Islands Accommodation unit at Aberdeen Maternity hospital.
Examples of individuals having to find expensive hotel accommodation outside Aberdeen have prompted concerns about the basis on which rooms in the unit are allocated to families from the Scottish mainland.
Commenting on the issue, Mr McArthur said:
“This facility has been an absolute god-send over the years, providing a home away from home for expectant mums from Orkney and Shetland, as well as their partners and children. Those who need to stay on for neonatal care have also found the unit absolutely invaluable.
“It was no real surprise that when the unit underwent a £130,000 refurbishment in 2010, much of the money raised came from public donations in Orkney and Shetland. I am concerned therefore to hear that constituents may be experiencing difficulties in accessing the facility. Other local options, such as CLAN and the Red Cross, can offer affordable alternatives, but it seems some islanders may have been forced to rent expensive hotel rooms quite a distance from the hospital.
“Obviously, NHS Grampian needs to manage the unit as efficiently as possible. Moreover, it was always envisaged that the Islands Accommodation would also be available to families from the mainland who need it. Nevertheless, I am keen to understand how this is working in practice and how priorities are set.
“Clearly, individuals and families travelling down from the islands, often at very short notice, are at a disadvantage compared to their mainland counterparts. I would expect this to be taken into account by NHS Grampian and hope the Acting Chief Executive can now provide suitable reassurances.”