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New X-ray equipment ensures Lawson's future


By Caroline McMorran


The new state-of-the-art X-ray machine.
The new state-of-the-art X-ray machine.

NHS Highland managers have unveiled state-of-the art new digital X-ray equipment recently installed at Sutherland’s cottage hospital.

An official ceremony was held for invited guests to mark the launch of the upgraded radiology service at the Lawson Memorial Hospital, Golspie.

The £400,000 investment has been hailed as securing the future of the county hospital which has a day surgery unit and GP-led units as well various out-patient clinics and a care of the elderly medical and rehabilitation unit.

East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Deirdre Mackay said: “A state-of-the-art facility such as this cements the future of the hospital and the service is highly valued.”

The hospital’s X-ray service closed down in October last year after health chiefs decided to replace the 25-year-old equipment, which still used film, was considered no longer fit for purpose.

It was felt that the quality of most of the imaging being produced was no longer of an acceptable diagnostic standard for “most clinical indications”.

Since the service shut, patients have been sent for X-rays to the Caithness General Hospital in Wick or the County Community Hospital at Invergordon.

At Wednesday’s ceremony NHS Highland area manager north Michelle Johnstone said it was an “exciting” development but it had been touch and go as to whether it would actually happen

She said: “We have been waiting for this for quite a while now and at one point it looked a bit ropey as to whether it was going to come off.”

She added that the X-ray equipment purchased was the best available on the market and the images it produced were “superb”.

“We did not go for middle of the road – we went for the best that there is out there at the moment and we got it. What we have got here is industry leading.” she said.

Ms Johnstone added that the investment sent out the message that NHS Highland was interested in keeping services local

“We have had quite a few developments at the Lawson in recent years but this is the biggest yet,” she said.

The honour of cutting a ribbon and declaring the new service ready for action went to former Lawson Memorial radiographer Jackie Knight

She said she had begun working at the hospital in October 1990 when the X-ray equipment dated back to the 1970s.

“It took three-and-a-half minutes to process X-ray film on a desk top unit that broke down one a month and was usually fixed with a paper clip,” she said.

She recalled that new, ceiling mounted X-ray equipment was installed in 1994/5.

Ms Knight described the new technology as “amazing” and also praised the refurbishment of the X-ray room which she said was now light, bright and modern.



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