What future – if any – for Lanark hospital?

Protesters outside Lockhart Hospital in Lanark when it was theatened by closure in 2016. Picture Sarah Peters.
Protesters outside Lockhart Hospital in Lanark when it was theatened by closure in 2016. Picture Sarah Peters.

This month saw the third anniversary of the closure of Lanark’s Lockhart Hospital pass almost without comment despite the furious reaction to the NHS Lanarkshire decision to ‘mothball’ it in May, 2016.

The issue of the much-loved local institution provoked packed-out public meetings at the Memorial Hall where demands were made that ‘The Lockhart’ re-open one day as a hospital to again care for mainly elderly patients as it had done for decades before.

The NHS issued assurances that an eventual re-opening was planned as a ‘nurse-led hospital’, the reason for the original closure being given as lack of GP cover.

Now some fear that the Lockhart’s fate as a hospital has finally been sealed by the announcement two weeks ago that the new ‘Care Hub’ for Clydesdale’s elderly is not to be in a refurbished Lockhart nor the more modern McClymont House council care home it will be a direct replacement for.

Both have been ruled out in favour of a purpose built ‘Care Hub’ in Lanark’s Flush Park, the public playing fields off Smyllum Road.

The official line on the Lockhart building not being used as the new hub because of its distance from Lanark’s bus stance and railway station.

Visitors, it is argued, would have only 0.3 of a mile to travel to Flush Park but almost double that to The Lockhart.

It is also being argued that Whitelees Road is deemed unsuitable for road access to and from The Lockhart although many Lanarkians regard Woodstock Road – which would serve the Flush Park ‘hub’ – as one of the town’s traffic blackspots.

The future of The Lockhart as a hospital was briefly discussed at Lanark Community Council’s meeting on Monday, members stating they’d had no recent news on its fate.

This week a rumour was brought to the Gazette’s attention that the building and grounds were already being marketed for housing redevelopment with a £2m price tag.

However, local sources in the building trade told us that this was an unlikely figure and the site was too small for any major development. NHS Lanarkshire has been contacted for a comment.

At least part of the building is back in very active use, being the ‘Lockhart Hub’ for the Healthy Valleys organisation.

It has long settled into the former hospital as its base for Clydesdale-wide activities promoting healthy lifestyles.

Just this week it was announced that it had won a major national award for its activities.