A NEW mum whose baby was born prematurely put a plea on Facebook for a spare room after she felt let down by the family hospital accommodation at Raigmore Hospital.
Demi Mitchell, from Helmsdale, was given a room in the special unit so she could be close to her baby, who has been kept in the hospital’s special baby care unit after being born weighing just 2lbs and 13ozs.
But she was left "heartbroken" after a strict ‘no children’ rule at the hospital’s free accommodation block forced her to be parted from her two-year-old daughter, who was left pining at home nearly 70 miles away.
The 21-year-old, who is fighting an infection and recovering from a caesarian section, was so desperate to have her toddler by her side her mother posted her plight on social media.
And Demi’s mother Marie (47), who has been fielding the reaction from concerned well-wishers on Facebook, said there has been an overwhelming response.
Mrs Mitchell (sen) said: "The amount of messages that we have had has been absolutely overwhelming and we are so amazed by the number of people offering a room but thankfully Demi is going to stay with her partner’s family at Milton near Alness so she doesn’t have to go with strangers.
"We are delighted with Liam’s care by the staff at Raigmore.
"But our whole point is they should have somewhere in Inverness for families if women are having to travel all the way from Sutherland or Wick and Caithness to have their babies."
NHS Highland admitted the hospital accommodation was limited but said work was underway to make improvements.
The family’s saga started the week before baby Liam was born at Raigmore nearly three months before his due date after tests showed he was being starved of oxygen and nutrients because Demi’s placenta was not working and medics felt he would fare a better chance of survival if delivered by caesarian section.
The week prior to his birth Demi and her partner Calumn, (21) paid for a bed and breakfast in the city while tests were carried out to ascertain whether or not she would have to deliver early.
The week after the birth was spent in Raigmore Hospital but there followed an anguishing few days where the new mum was travelling back and forth from Raigmore Hospital to her home in Helmsdale trying to be there for her ailing newborn, her two-year-old Hope, and her five year-old Kaya.
Demi was unable to talk to The Inverness Courier at the time of going to press .
But her mother, who comes from Brora, said it was a "horrible" situation.
She said: "Demi was heartbroken. She wanted to be there to make sure Liam was OK but she also needed to be with her girls.
"Little Hope was pining for her, she had separation anxiety. She couldn’t understand where her mam had gone, she knew she had a little baby brother but she didn’t understand, she’s only two.
"And Demi’s my baby too, she’s only 21. She’s just had a section, she’s not keeping well. She’s taking antibiotics for an infection. She was so worried about Liam and the girls.
"It’s been horrible. It was a terrible situation. I totally get that the NHS doesn’t have the facilities up here so Demi had to go to Raigmore.
"But a lot of new mums have other kids and this no children rule at the hospital’s accommodation block just leaves them snookered."
NHS Highland said: "Caithness District General has become midwife-led but that would not have impacted on this family’s care. A baby who needs special care baby unit treatment would come to Raigmore Hospital whether they had a consultant-led unit service in Wick or not because Wick has never had a special care baby unit.
"Within Raigmore Hospital there is a Ronald McDonald suite with rooms, and there is also accommodation at SCBU House on the Raigmore site, specifically for parents who have babies in that unit.
"Those two areas are not child-secure but that is something that we are actively looking at. We are sorry the family are not happy.
"In order that we can discuss this with them directly they can contact our feedback team or speak to the midwife in charge of the unit."