Local birth services have been temporarily suspended at Broadford hospital, due to a shortage of available midwives.
NHS Highland has also suspended the Out of Hours (OOHs) midwifery service for Skye and Lochalsh from Tuesday 21 November.
They state that the changes are due to a temporary but significant shortage of available midwives and expect the services changes to stay in place for a minimum of a month.
NHS Highland wishes to stress that midwifery services will continue during normal working hours from 09:00 – 17:00 hrs, seven days per week (including Saturday and Sundays).
Sarah McLeod, lead midwife for Skye & Lochalsh, said: “At the present time, we must ensure that we continue to provide the normal daily midwifery service for women and babies on a scheduled basis.”
“Due to unexpected staff absence and vacancies, there are insufficient midwives to cover a local birth and OOHs service safely. We are endeavouring to find support via the staff bank; however, this means we will be unable to maintain a full 24/7 service for the time being.”
“The suspension of this part of our service will only be temporary. We are currently in the midst of a recruitment process and hope to have two new midwives in post as soon as possible, certainly by early next year.”
Sarah also stressed that NHS Highland is working with its local medical teams and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) to establish how best it can support those affected during this temporary situation.
She said: “As is already the case, women booked for Raigmore Hospital are asked to contact Raigmore maternity unit outwith stipulated working hours where their care will be co-ordinated and triaged by our colleagues in Inverness. These measures are already in place in order to ensure the safety of expectant mums and their babies.
“There are currently no women due to give birth locally either in the Broadford Midwifery Unit or at home.
“In the meantime, we will be ensuring that local women are made aware of the situation and request that they make earlier contact with Raigmore maternity unit should they require assistance.
“All women currently on the CMU’s caseload will now be contacted by their named midwife and will also be sent a letter clarifying the position. Further information will be posted on social media on our dedicated Skye and Lochalsh maternity Facebook page used by both local women and midwives.
“NHS Highland would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. This has been a difficult decision to make and we hope that service users and the local community will understand the reasons for this action. We would, of course, be very happy to discuss things further with them at any time.”