Campaigners calling for the full reopening of Lanark’s mothballed Lockhart Hospital say they feel badly let down by the response they got this week from Scottish Government health minister Shona Robison.
Their petition, signed by 2,300 people calling for the restoration of the Lockhart to full inpatient cottage hospital status, was presented to the Government in mid-February by Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell and now, two months later, the campaign’s leaders have received a response from Ms Robison.
It contains none of the assurances sought by the petitioners that the Lockhart will one day reopen as the 30-bed cottage hospital for mainly geriatric patients it once was, however.
The campaigners’ gloom deepened on Monday when they saw the first details of the new role NHS Lanarkshire plans for the hospital, with it being largely turned into a base for the voluntary Healthy Valleys public health promotion group.
One of the campaign’s leaders, Clydesdale North councillor Ed Archer, commented: “Healthy Valleys is an excellent organisation, but what has running baby yoga sessions, anti-smoking clinics, domestic abuse response and food hygiene training classes got to do with a hospital?
“It reads more like a community centre programme than a hospital reopening plan. This is a big letdown for us.”
He went on to say that he’d had complaints from constituents about long waits for beds at Wishaw General Hospital and premature discharges, all, he claims, due to the loss of the Lockhart’s 30 beds.
“It is obvious that Lanark needs these beds back and needs them back soon,” he said.
However, Ms Campbell responded saying: “The petition I received clearly illustrated the commitment people across Clydesdale have for the Lockhart Hospital and how appreciated the care provided by staff there is. That is a commitment I share and why I am equally determined to ensure there is a sustainable and long-term future for our much-loved hospital.
“My constituents and all the community representatives deserve to be thanked for engaging so deeply in this matter and the conversations that have been happening regarding the long-term plans for patient treatment.
“NHS Lanarkshire have assured the cabinet secretary for health that they are working to secure a sustainable future for Lockhart, and I will continue to closely monitor the situation as plans develop in the coming months.”
It is now almost a year since the Lockhart closed to new admissions.