A packed Lanark Memorial Hall heard a sensational claim that the Forth doctors practice offered to save the Lockhart Hospital from closure but were refused the NHS cash to do so.
The public meeting also erupted in applause when the Lanark Doctors practice members were accused of spending too little time attending to their NHS duties in the town - including providing the hospital’s vital medical cover - and too much working lucrative private healthcare shifts.
If the meeting last Wednesday night to quiz NHS bosses on the Lockhart closure three months ago due to lack of GP cover had been one of the professional entertainment shows the hall is usually the venue for, the vast majority of the audience would have been asking for their money back,
The Lanarkshire NHS chiefs deflected repeated demands for a guarantee that the Lockhart would re-open soon in its traditional role as a hospital for mainly elderly inpatients.
The huge audience showed audible signs of impatience at repeated statements from NHS Lanarkshire chiefs that a “sustainable model” for the re-opening of The Lockhart was being sought, possibly as a `nurse practitioner’ hospital and even then not until late 2017.
NHS Lanarkshire has maintained since May that The Lockhart’s closure was in no way due to financial constraints but purely because no GP could be found to provide medical cover for the hospital.
However, an intervention at the meeting by veteran former Lanark and now Forth GP Dr Jill Murie caused a sensation in the hall.
She revealed that her practice HAD offered to provide the GP cover to keep the Lockhart open - but had been refused sufficient cash by NHS Lanarkshire to do so. The NHS bosses at the meeting did not rebuff her allegation.
Another contribution from the floor which attracted huge applause was from a member of the public who asked why the Lanark Doctors didn’t have time to provide the Lockhart with medical cover “if they can do lucrative work in private practices?”
There had earlier been groans from the audience to learn the Lanark practice had been unable to send a representative to the meeting.
When, at the end of the meeting, chairman Frank Gunning of Lanark Community Council proposed a vote of thanks to the NHS bosses for coming to Lanark, this attracted very sparse applause.