Crunch talks to held over GP services

Lanark Doctors Woodstock Health Centre Lanark
Lanark Doctors Woodstock Health Centre Lanark

The boss of the NHS in Lanarkshire is to come face to face with Lanark’s councillors to discuss the town’s troubled GP practice.

As reported by the Gazette for several months, the Lanark Doctors practice in Woodstock Road has been the subject of complaints from patients, claiming they are having to wait up to a month for appointments, although the practice maintains it is responding to all urgent and emergency cases promptly.

Difficulty recruiting doctors to join the practice has been cited as a main reason for the problems and the latest meeting of the town’s Community Council heard a personal plea for improvments from one disgruntled patient, Mrs Esther Warren of Corehouse.

She told Community Council members that, after she had been unable to get an appointment through a new system introduced as a stop-gap by the practice recently, she insisted to a receptionist that she wanted to lodge a complaint persionally with the person at the surgery responsibe for receiving patient feedback.

She said; “After being told she wasn’t available, I asked for an email address to send my complaint to. I was told that there was no email address.

“I just don’t believe that a practice - essentially a business - that size won’t have an email address.”

She said that she decided instead to resort to the old-fashioned method of handwriting a letter to the person named at the Lanark Doctors and she shared its contents to the Community Council members.

In her letter, she even suggested that it be closed down completely and replaced by a new practice altogether.

Community council members were sympathetic, chairman Frank Gunning commenting: “I wonder how you are meant to get complaints to them if they don’t have an email. Pigeon post?”

He went on to get agreement from fellow council members that they continue to press both the local MSP, Aileen Campbell and the South of Scotland List MSP Claudia Beamish to continue to pursue the matter, given that health was a matter devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The meeting also heard that a face-to-face meeting has been scheduled for late November between the Chief Executive of NHS Lanarkshire, Calum Campbell, and the Lanark area’s three elected members of South Lanarkshire Council, namely Independent Ed Archer, Labour’s Catherine McClymont and the SNP’s Vivienne Shaw.

Said Councillor Archer this week: The meeting will have appointments at the practice at the top of the agenda. Some people have tried for one month to secure an appointment. Constituents are extremely annoyed but are very complimentary of the service - when they get it!”