Out-of-hours decision delayed

Lanark Health Centre'16/3/10'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Lanark Health Centre'16/3/10'Picture by Lindsay Addison

ALTHOUGH a final decision is being stalled, it seems certain that Clydesdale will not now see a return of its own out-of-hours doctor cover.

For months controversy has raged over NHS Lanarkshire withdrawing regular night-time GP cover for the area, formerly based at Lanark Health Centre, citing lack of doctors willing to put in the extra hours.

For months now patients from our area have had to go to an out-of-hours surgery at Wishaw General Hospital to seek treatment.

They will now have to travel even further for medical attention as NHS Lanarkshire is going ahead with an “interim” adoption of its earlier proposal to have just two out-of-hours surgeries for the whole county, at health centres in Hamilton and Airdrie, both even further away from the homes of Clydesdale patients than Wishaw.

This proposal came under heavy fire when NHS Lanarkshire held a public consultation meeting on the issue in Lanark Memorial Hall.

Now, months later, the health authority has announced that it will NOT be making a final decision on out-of-hours GP cover in Lanarkshire until after a national review of the service is carried out by the Scottish Government.

This is not expected to be concluded for many months and so, as a `holding’ operation, NHS Lanarkshire is putting its Hamilton/Airdrie surgeries scheme in as an “interim” measure in the interests of the “safety” of patients.

In a lengthy statement, NHS Lanarkshire Chief Executive Calum Campbell said, in part: “Patient safety is the most important consideration in moving this matter forward.

“We are committed to implementing the national recommendations on out-of-hours services, but need to introduce enhanced interim measures to protect the safety of our patients.

“Our own review has identified that we need to take urgent interim steps to improve access for patients assessed as requiring to be seen within one hour, as at present only 37 per cent of these patients are being seen within target.“

He went on to state: “The implementation of the interim measures will significantly improve the performance and ensure a safe service is provided for patients.”