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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Concern at baby care contingency
Newborn baby in a cot
Babies in Aberdeen have been treated in Belfast
Officials at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary's neonatal unit have defended contingency plans to fly women having premature babies to units as far away as Belfast.

Expectant mother Wendy Bowie, from Fraserburgh, said it was not fair to expect pregnant women to travel such a long distance.

NHS Grampian said it was rare for them to be taken to Belfast and none had been flown out in the last six months

The Scottish National Party called for a review of the hospital's capacity

The infirmary has 38 cots and 10 of those have been assigned to intensive care babies.

Mothers-to-be at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary could be transferred to a number of different locations to give birth because of high demand at the neonatal unit.

The mums will be told that they might go to Belfast but it is explained that that would be very rare
NHS Grampian spokeswoman

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said one pregnant woman had recently gone to Ayrshire to give birth and another expectant mother had gone to Dundee.

She added: "If our unit is reaching full capacity and a woman is coming in to deliver prematurely then we would phone the National Bed Bureau to find out the closest place they can go.

"The mother will then go and give birth. Once we have got room and it is clinically appropriate, we get mother and baby back to Aberdeen."

The official added: "We sit down the mums and explain all this to them.

"It is obviously a very stressful time for them and they will be told that they might go to Belfast but it is explained that that would be very rare."

'Local births'

However, Mrs Bowie said: "The thought of having to travel that kind of distance is scary.

"Of course if there was any risk to your baby then you would travel to the end of the earth but the whole thing is so traumatic that you need the support of your family and friends."

She went on: "They can't all be around you if you are miles away.

"The local hospitals should be dealing with the local births which would take the pressure off Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who could concentrate on the premature births."

Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Shona Robison said: "It is time the managers at NHS Grampian looked at whether the capacity of the unit is sufficient to meet the area that it serves and whether the number of cots are adequate."

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