Lockhart Hospital: Take two…aspirins!

At our last Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council meeting on Monday 30 January, many of the members were quite naturally eager to acquire an update on the status of NHS Lanarkshire’s approach to the re-opening of the Lockhart Hospital in Lanark, and when the follow-up public meeting, promised by NHS Lanarkshire for January 2017, would now be taking place.

Our members were concerned that the issue might be allowed to slip under the radar as so often seems to happen in the bureaucratic world. Let me assure readers that nothing whatsoever has slipped.

Our local SLC Councillors, MSPs and MPs (but not the public, oh dear me no!) were scheduled to attend an “update” meeting with NHS Lanarkshire in Hamilton the day after our RBLCC meeting, on Tuesday 31 January.

Apparently, these councillors discovered while at this meeting that the sub-group (that would be the sub-group on NHS Lanarkshire’s “The future of Service Provision in Clydesdale”) would also be having an update later that afternoon in Hamilton. Unfortunately, the two representatives appointed to this sub-group by the RBLCC had not been advised of the meeting. Just the sort of wee communication glitch that occasionally happens in the bureaucratic world.

The next meeting for this sub-group is now to be held on Thursday 23 February and with the wee communication glitch sorted out, will be attended by our two RBLCC representatives. There are 18 people in this sub-group, 14 of them representing various departments and/or branches of NHS Lanarkshire. I include Healthy Valleys in that 18, given the current proposal that they be based at Lockhart Hospital to undertake “Social Prescribing” on behalf of NHS Lanarkshire, with the remaining four representing the community of Clydesdale.

But that’s not the Lockhart sub-group. The sub-group, who are intent on discussing the future of the Lockhart and trying ensuring its continuing use as local cottage hospital, are scheduled to meet in Lanark on Thursday 23 March, but not yet - sad to say - at a public meeting in the Memorial Hall!  Given that by that time SLC will perhaps be in a state of uncertainty, where everybody who is anybody will be telling us how much better the NHS will be run when they are in charge (except that NHS Scotland is a Holyrood remit!) it might well have been January 2018 they had in mind when they promised us an update in January! 

In the meantime, the ‘update’ provided to our local SLC Councillors on 31 January is remarkably like the one outlined in the Memorial Hall in October 2016 at the public meeting, which is polite speak for saying it hasn’t changed one wee bit! “There has not been a Health Board plan to close Lockhart Hospital and there has been no decision taken to close it permanently. We are working on developing an alternative model of care that could allow the hospital to reopen to admissions, but it will take some time to develop and test this to see if this is possible”. All of which means will wait until the furore dies down and we have something positive to say before we go anywhere near a public meeting in Lanark again!

They also note that “Specifically, the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council asked if we could see if all the doctors in the Clydesdale area would be prepared to look after their own respective patients if Lockhart Hospital was reopened. The Medical Director spoke to some practices about this and, unfortunately, it is not currently an option moving forward.” All of which means they asked a few and they all said no. Seriously? Local doctors will not even attend to their own patients if they were in a bed at the Lockhart? Does being in the Lockhart mean they are automatically taken off the surgery list?

To be fair to NHS Lanarkshire – and regarding the current situation in Lanark that takes a fair bit of effort - the whole health and social care integration process that is going on is being driven by their paymasters in the Scottish Government.

I can’t help feeling somewhat guilty about it all, because it is all my fault! Me and the rest of the wrinkly folk strewn all over Clydesdale. We are all living past our sell-by date these days! Whose fault is that? It is all the fault of the NHS and the massively improved health service and medical care that we have benefitted from all our lives? Talk about the law of unintended consequences! The doctors and surgeons and pharmacists have all worked wonders for us. But none of them thought to build in an off-switch with the meds! So now we are to blame for bringing the NHS to ruin! And they punish us for it by making sure we are not going to be able to get a bed in the Lockhart when we need it!

Confusing, isn’t it?  But as the doctor says, just take two aspirins and come back and see me at the next update!


Stop Press!

Add to your diaries – The Monday 27 February meeting of the RBLCC will now be the promised public meeting with NHS Lanarkshire. As with all RBLCC meetings, this meeting will be open to the public and any and every person in Clydesdale seeking an update on the current and future proposals for the Lockhart Hospital should try to attend.

Those aspirins work like magic!


Frank Gunning shares his views on various local issues in his Let's Be Frank column.