Lanark’s Lockhart Hospital will never be the same again, a packed public meeting was told on Monday night.
Despite the presentation of a 2,300-signature petition calling for the building’s reopening as the traditional cottage hospital it was for decades before being mothballed last May, health and care bosses at the gathering in Greyfriars Church ruled out that eventuality.
A mainly elderly audience sat through over an hour of presentations from a succession of representatives from the NHS/South Lanarkshire Care Partnership and Healthy Valleys voluntary group on their extensive, if incomplete, plans for the future use of the Lockhart.
These included localised rehabilition, counselling and therapy sessions and palliative care currently only available from Wishaw General Hospital. A member of the partnership team pledged that this would deliver not the old Lockhart but “a better Lockhart Hospital”.
A new team of advanced nurse practitioners was being trained and formed to deliver much of the care formerly given by GPs through or at the hospital.
Some members of the audience, however, were keen to hear that inpatient, mainly geriatric, beds would be restored to the Lockhart, concerned that it was essentialy to cease being a hospital and become a clinic or health centre instead.
One senior NHS representative replied that “no guarantees can be given at this stage” that there will be any inpatient beds in the new Lockhart, explaining that models for uses of the re-opened building were being tested and it could be some time yet before all parts of the Whitelees Road building are brought back into use.
The reason given by NHS Lanarkshire for the hospital’s mothballing last year was the lack of a GP prepared to provide medical cover.
Perhaps tellingly, on Monday night when an audience member asked if, should a GP or GPs be found to restore that medical cover, would the hospital reopen as the mainly geriatric inpatient unit it once was, the answer from the partnership team was a firm no, however.
Near the end of the meeting, two Lanark area councillors, Catherine McClymont and Ed Archer, presented Clydesdale’s MSP Aileen Campbell with a petition signed by 2,300 people, calling for the Lockhart’s restoration to full cottage hospital status.
She promised to pass it on to the Scottish Government’s health minister, Shona Robison.