Call for Hepatitis C test centre for Lanark patients

Law  Hospital, now demolished, where surgeon worked
Law Hospital, now demolished, where surgeon worked

Lanark and the rest of rural Clydesdale should have a dedicated testing centre for patients of the old Law Hospital who may have contracted Hepatitis C from an infected surgeon who worked there.

As previously reported, a major health scare was sparked when NHS Lanarkshire belatedly revealed that a surgeon who worked at Law from 1982 before moving on to the new Wishaw General Hospital was diagnosed with Hep C in 2008.

He is thought to have performed around 8,000 operations during his time in Lanarkshire and all his ex-patients have been lettered by the NHS, calling them in for a test to discover if they have been infected.

The Gazette understands that NHS Lanarkshire only revealed the surgeon’s condition after two of his former patients showed signs of Hep C infection.

Now an allegation has been made that Lanark and the rest of rural Clydesdale is getting ‘second-class’ treatment in the health check programme.

At the latest meeting of Lanark Community Council one of its members, Eleanor McLean, revealed that she had been one of the surgeon’s patients many years ago.

She had received one of the letters from NHS Lanarkshire, calling her in for a test but said: “There is no testing centre for Lanark and the countryside area that it serves.

“The nearest testing is at Carluke and there are centres in Wishaw, Hamilton, Motherwell, Hamilton, Hairmyres (East Kilbride), Stonehouse, Bellshill and Viewpark, but none in the Lanark area. Why?”

Other members of the council drew comparisons with the recent withdrawal of out-of-hours GP cover for the Clydesdale area with patients now having to travel to Hamilton or Airdrie for such treatment.

Dr John Logan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We have recommended to each person who has been sent a letter that they 
arrange to have a test for Hepatitis C.

“If it is difficult for someone to attend one of the clinics available they should let staff on the appointment booking line know and we will put in place arrangements for them to be tested that meet their individual needs.

“Testing clinics are running during mornings and afternoons of week days and also during evenings and the weekend to make it easier for people to attend at a time that suits them.

“People booking an appointment can choose to attend any clinic they wish.

“By the morning of March 2 more than 4,500 patients - over 65 per cent of the Lanarkshire residents we have written to - had booked an appointment at a testing clinic.”