Heading for crisis point

270213 Linlithgow health centre centre.
270213 Linlithgow health centre centre.

HEALTH services could reach crisis point in Linlithgow in the next five to 10 years if people don’t act now, it has been claimed.

The issue of cramped conditions and limited services at Linlithgow Health Centre was raised at Linlithgow’s community council meeting on Tuesday.

Jack Thompson of the LCC said: “We have a good health centre in the town with 
excellent GPs and back up staff, but we have limited resources here, and there needs to be further discussions on how to take this forward.

“For services such as eye tests for those with diabetes, patients are sent to Strathbrock or Bathgate, and these services should be available in Linlithgow. There are quite a lot of 
areas we are missing out on and patients have to travel.

“The process that resulted in the health centre moving to where it is took two years, so we must start to put pressure on now, so we don’t miss out badly in the future. I am hoping that we can start to do something on this sooner rather than later as this is something that will affect everyone in Linlithgow.”

Around four years ago, Linlithgow’s county buildings was suggested as a location for a new health centre, but when a feasibility study found it would take £4 million to make it fit for purpose, the idea was shelved.

Linlithgow councillor Tom Conn was also in favour of the former bus depot on the High Street being considered, but this was scrapped when McCarthy and Stone bought the property last year.

He said: “Sites in the town centre are reducing and this is where residents want the health centre to be.

“The existing health centre is cramped for space and there is a need for a larger service in the town, to take the pressure off. Linlithgow has an elderly population that will put demands on the service, but there is no active search to value sites in the town centre.”

He added that extending the current High Street centre had been raised previously, as well as using the library building at the Vennel, once the lending service relocates to the county buildings. The former library would be a second building for the health centre, creating a campus approach to local health care.

The councillor added: “If we sit back and do nothing we will have a crisis in the next five to 10 years. Something has to be done now and we need to have these discussions now. The feasibility study on the county buildings took 18 months, so this takes time. We need to look at sites and the type of building that we want.”

Sheila McGaw, secretary of Linlithgow Pensioners Group agreed that a one-stop health centre in Linlithgow would be ideal for the elderly in the town.

She said: “It is harder for older people if they have to travel to Bathgate or Livingston, and they need to rely on public transport. I cannot see them able to extend the current health centre as it would take up car parking spaces, but something does need to be done. We need to be somewhere else in the town centre or extend what we have.”

This week, James McCallum, clinical director for West Lothian Community Health Care Partnership (CHCP), said: “We are currently 
reviewing all of our premises in line with the CHCP’s and NHS Lothian’s premises 
review strategy.

“We remain committed to providing the best possible healthcare facilities for the people of Linlithgow.”