Now that the initial shock of the abrupt closure of Lanark’s Lockhart Hospital has passed, a major campaign to have it re-opened has been launched.
Petitions, protest marches and picketing of NHS Lanarkshire headquarters in Hamilton have all been proposed following the decision to mothball the much-valued 30-bed hospital for lack of a single doctor to provide GP cover for its mainly elderly patients.
Following a sometimes heated public meeting in Lanark last week at which health chiefs denied there was any plan to close the hospital permanently, Clydesdale’s recently re-elected SNP MSP Aileen Campbell commented: “I have demanded strong reassurances that there is no long-term plan to close this much-loved and used local facility.
“Facilities like the Lockhart should be utilised as much as possible as they allow people to be treated closer to home, rather than going to Wishaw.
“I am pleased that at the recent public meeting, and in correspondence to me, that NHS Lanarkshire say they ‘remain committed to Clydesdale’s cottage hospitals’ but I need them to show this commitment in the coming days by endeavouring to re-open the hospital.
“I have also sought to ensure communication with the community is open and transparent to guard against unnecessary scares.
“The community are greatly concerned that the hospital is being effectively mothballed. NHS Lanarkshire must ensure that they do their utmost to reassure the public as to their commitment to Clydesdale’s cottage hospitals and to re-open Lockhart Hospital as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, her Labour South of Scotland counterpart Claudia Beamish MSP visited a group of demonstrators outside the hospital late last week, saying later: “This local facility is invaluable for interim care for those not able to return home. It is also vital for end-of-life care. Lanark and the surrounding area needs this service.
“It enables family and friends to have easy access to those in need of hospital support and everyone knows how essential this is for all involved. We must all work together to find solutions to ensure it is back working at full capacity soon.”
NHS Lanarkshire has committed itself to give a written update on June 23 on its efforts to re-open the hospital. It says that, among options, it is considering Lockhart being a ‘nurse-led’ hospital.