Hopes that Lanark’s much-loved Lockhart Hospital might one day re-open to in-patients were finally dashed this week.
Two-and-a-half years after its closure due to lack of GP medical cover, the cottage hospital for mainly elderly patients will not re-open as an Advanced Nurse Practioner hospital, a prospect held out by NHS Lanarkshire at the time of the closure.
This week the authority, in denying current local rumours that the building was to close entirely and be demolished, said that ‘The Lockhart’s’ future lay in being a “community health and social care services base.”
For decades the 40-bed capacity hospital had served Lanark and district as a well-respected facility where the elderly patients could be treated near to home and family.
However, on Monday Craig Cunningham, Head of Commissioning and Performance South Lanarkshire Health & Social Care Partnership - the joint NHS/council body - stated that, while there were no plans to demolish ‘The Lockhart’, the Advanced Nurse Practitioner hospital idea had been dropped on “safety” grounds.
He said that they had seriously studied “the potential for Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) to take over much of the work previously undertaken by doctors in the hospital so that Lockhart beds could be re-opened with reduced medical input.
“A detailed review of this test of change found that, whilst some scope exists to reduce medical input, there remains a significant requirement for regular GP medical involvement in order to provide safe inpatient care. In light of this, and bearing in mind that patient safety is our overriding priority, this option is not seen as a realistic and, indeed, feasible way of reinstating in-patient services.”
Mr Cunningham added: “It’s also worth highlighting that, since the original decision was taken to withdraw inpatient services, the position regarding availability of GPs now is significantly worse. As such, having ANPs available to support the sustainability of General Practice is the priority and essential at this time. A formal process is now underway to re-designate Lockhart Hospital to a community health and social care services base and is contrary to any unfounded rumour of closing or demolishing the building.”
The news is certain to disappoint the “Save the Lockhart” campaign set up after the original closure to patients in May, 2016. Packed public meetings were held in Lanark to demand The Lockhart’s re-opening as a hospital.