What’s next for the Lockhart?

I am enjoying all the debate about the closure of the Lockhart Hospital. Like most Lanark residents we have all used the hospital over the last 60 years. The hospital was great, handy for relatives to visit patients, and the care given was from our local doctor who would keep an eye on you until you were ready to go home.

That was in the past. Now as time moves on there have been massive improvements in healthcare. Medics are able to deal with cancer, dementia, parkinson’s and many, many more issues.

The case has been made that most people who are at the end of their life do not want to die in hospital if they can be looked after at home. I would certainly be up for that! Who would not?

I feel the issue is rather easy to identify.

If a patient in hospital needs medical care, they should be in a hospital, where doctors are there to see them getting better. Once ready to go home that should be arranged and a programme of care should be arranged. Why send them to the Lockhart? There may be reasons why this is not appropriate. The patient may have no support from anyone for a number of reasons, but if a properly trained carer knew how to deal with such a situation, it is surely better for the patient to live in their own environment.

The NHS appear to want to switch the Lockhart Hospital to a place where the community can call in and discuss their problems. Experts would be on hand to deal with some of the issues that arise at our local doctors. What has caused this need for change? Perhaps it was the deal that doctors got from Tony Blair that allowed their hours to drop and their wages to rise. Or no weekend working. The result is that NHS 24 takes up the slack and sends you to A&E for a three-hour wait - if you can get there! Plus people are generally living longer and eventually add to the queue for help.

The original model chosen for the NHS is now years out of date. Lanark, as usual, is comfy with the “It’s aye been” model. Perhaps we now have to come to terms with discussing the future with those whose job it is to improve the model to cope with new challenges.

I worried that all of the “Aye beens” will make up the majority of the audience at the next meeting with the Lockhart group that took place on the 27th in Greyfriars Hall. I was right and they will dig their heels in at any suggested progress.

One member of the public raised a significant point. His wife was sent home as Lockhart was closed. He tries hard to look after his wife 24 hours a day. Four care visits a day are arranged and the pressure on these workers is so high that the service provided is short of what would be acceptable. Will resources be increased to give at least a similar level of care that the Lockhart offered? This would appear to be a grey area.

The idea of boosting social care is a good one, but only if sufficient investment is made. The present system seems to be overloaded, does not deal with medical matters, and relies on the goodwill displayed by underpaid workers. I have some difficulties with this when we see carers allocated a single person 24 hours a day. The cost of this must be huge and came about when places like the Dale Centre closed.

The NHS must give full and frank information on their future plans. They must have figures to back up what they hope to achieve and a realistic timescale for carrying out their plans. In the meantime the Lockhart Hospital will be no more.


Another change being made by those who know better than ordinary man and woman in the street is occurring in the delivery of education. Politicians are becoming obsessed with improving attainment in those who live in deprived areas of Britain.

A generation ago we had a much better system. It was assumed that students and pupils had a range of talents. Not everyone was good at maths and English, but the same person could have great practical knowledge. Students were streamed and were taught items that were appropriate to their talents. This worked out really well and schools were able to produce valuable men and women ready to take up a job or join a further education college.

This obsession with equality is great in theory but nothing more than a pipe dream. We should looking at people from the talents they have and forgetting all about watering down the system to tick the boxes that our politicians seem to be so keen on.

The daft notion that 50% of school leavers should go to university has been a disaster and arguably devalued our education system. Some students pick easy courses to get their degree, leaving the harder subjects like science, maths and engineering because they are too difficult.

Let us agree that education is about developing the talents people have. Engineers and science graduates need to be paid more. They keep the country going. Germany does this and their technology is miles ahead of the rest of Europe. Why do we need politicians to decide our education strategy? Because they control the purse stings!