Brodick Health Centre to stay shut with future under discussion

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Sub-heading: ‘A simple appointment in Lamlash can become an exercise in logistics and patience.’

By Colin Smeeton

Brodick Health Centre will not re-open as normal, despite the closure of the Arran Covid Test Centre last weekend.

Health officials have confirmed that the future of health centre is currently under discussion and that regular medical appointments will continue to be provided at the other health centres on the island.

This was confirmed in a statement by Vicki Campbell, head of primary and urgent care services at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, who said: ‘Discussions are taking place with Arran Medical Group regarding its remobilisation plans and service delivery models as we recover from the Covid pandemic. These discussions will include future delivery of services from Brodick Health Centre.’

The news will offer little comfort to Brodick residents who voiced their concerns last year that the surgery may never re-open and the inconvenience and expense, especially for the elderly, of having to travel to Lamlash or Shiskine for a GP appointment.

Providing a glimmer of hope for those concerned about the future of the facility, Ms Campbell added: ‘A small number of appointments are being made available at Brodick Health Centre by the GP practice and it is hoped this will increase over the coming months. In the meantime, general medical services continue to be provided to Arran residents at the GP practice sites at Lamlash and Shiskine.

‘Patients can access GP services and other healthcare professionals appropriate to their healthcare needs at these two locations. The site at Whiting Bay also remains open for limited services.’

The Brodick centre closed for general medical services in June 2020 when it was identified as the most central and accessible location on the island for the Covid testing centre and patients have since been diverted to other practices on the island.

One resident, not being named for confidentiality reasons, wrote to the Banner outlining the difficulty, expense and logistics involved in using public transport and taxis to attend hospital and doctors appointments in Lamlash.

The woman said: ‘The Brodick closure has presented a huge amount of transport difficulties for those of us who are not drivers. Sadly, Covid prohibits us from getting a goodwill lift from neighbours and friends. This situation leaves only buses and taxis which presents major problems.

‘From the Southend to the Lamalsh surgery requires only one bus but the bus does not go the hospital. The service between Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay is regular but beyond Whiting Bay requires a wait for the ‘boat bus’.

‘Sadly, from the Northend via Sannox and Corrie the service is infrequent and can be busy in summer so by the time it reaches Corrie, it can be so full that you cannot get on. For a morning appointment, you cannot make it before 11.15am as the bus reaches Corrie at 10.15am and reaches the pier in time for the boat. You then have to wait for the ‘boat bus’ to travel to Lamlash which reaches there about 11.15am. If your appointment finishes around 12pm you have to wait for the Southend bus to reach Lamlash at 1.15pm, which will then get you to the pier to catch the 1.40pm to Corrie and beyond. The time waiting around Lamlash is frustrating, especially on a cold winter day, but in summer you might not even get on as it is full. It is worse for an afternoon appointment as you may have to wait till 6.15pm to get a bus to Brodick for the 7pm bus to Corrie.

‘There is a school bus, but only from Monday to Thursday, but not during school holidays so again the situation is not practical. A simple appointment in Lamlash can become an exercise in logistics and patience.

‘This leaves us with taxis which are prohibitively expensive. A Brodick to Lamlash return is £24. Brodick to Corrie, one way, is £12. Corrie to Lamlash, return is £44. I am not sure if Arran Medical Group is aware of the cost of taxis but when offered a Shiskine appointment, from Brodick, this can cost £56 return. Those on low incomes cannot afford this, particularly as the further away you are from Lamlash, the more expensive it becomes.

‘Much of the frustration and expense could be alleviated if Brodick re-opened, or even made available a specimen box. I recently spent £20 and hours travelling just to hand in a specimen at Lamlash.

‘Telephone consultations are useful but sooner or later we all need to attend hospital or a surgery. Sadly, Brodick surgery shows no sign of opening again so the travel problems will continue until it opens again, if ever.

‘When I first came to Arran I remember patient transport being in operation. Now long gone, but surely something to consider,’ she added.


The test centre at Brodick Health Centre is now closed. NO_B43test01