The local campaign to have Lanark’s Lockhart Hospital reopened is about to go national.
At the end of last month, copies of a petition signed by 2,300 people calling for the mothballed cottage hospital to be reopened in its old role were handed over to NHS Lanarkshire and Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell.
That took place at a public meeting in Lanark at which the new NHS-South Lanarkshire Care Partnership revealed its scheme to re-open the Lockhart as a community healthcare base, run in conjunction with the voluntary Healthy Valleys group.
Campaigners fighting to save the Lockhart, however, want to see a full return to mainly geriatric inpatient services, the role played by the hospital for many years until last May’s mothballing due to the lack of a GP to provide medical cover.
Though the Clydesdale MSP promised to pass the petition on to her Scottish Government colleague, health minister Shona Robison, the Lockhart campaigners want a full-blown debate on the issue in the Scottish Parliament.
Explained one of the campaign’s leaders, Lanark independent councillor Ed Archer: “We originally hoped to present our petition straight to Holyrood so the issue could be debated there.
“However, we were told that parliamentary rules meant that only petitions on a national, not local, issue could trigger such a debate.
“We have decided, therefore, to mount a new petition campaign, this one nationally, calling for the retention of all Scottish cottage hospitals which we see as under threat from the new care-in-the-home policies which would see them steadily eliminated, leaving only the big general hospitals like Wishaw’s to deal with serious and emergency cases.
“We have said from the start that the Lockhart situation is mirrored elsewhere across Scotland, and this is why it is necessary to work hard and fight for the retention of services in Clydesdale and across the nation.”
He added that the new policies on the treatment of the elderly will also, ultimately, threaten the future of Biggar’s Kello and Douglas’s Lady Home cottage hospitals.
NHS Lanarkshire denies there is any such threat.