Mr Thomas Walker had only recently come to Blantyre and in January 1978, was 48 years old.
One day that month around 9am, he was at home alone in Broompark Road and became unwell. He decided to get fresh air and make his way towards Blantyre Health Centre in Victoria Street, something that took him a full two hours. Leaning against the reception desk, he told the staff that he thought he was having a heart attack, but was told that if he could speak, he was not in the middle of a heart attack.
Thomas demanded to see the doctor, but was advised they were too busy. Almost fit to collapse, Thomas left the centre in desperation and in pain, sat on a wall outside, his hands clutching his chest. A passing taxi was flagged down and Thomas rushed himself to Hairmyres Hospital, where incredibly he was told that he would have to see his own doctor first.
A full 10 hours later with another visit to Blantyre Health Centre again, doctors confirmed he had a mild heart attack. Thomas told the press, “I am alright now, and I would have let it drop, only I started thinking what would happen had i been older or if it was more serious.”
The press contacted the Health Centre to get their side of events and were told that the problem lay with the fact that Thomas was still registered at his old address in Glasgow and had not registered as a patient in Blantyre. The doctors had given priority to Blantyre cases that day and if he had waited in the centre, he would have eventually have been seen.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017