Board Approves Ambitious Plans For Recovery, Innovation & Improvement

NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, has set out ambitious plans to support service recovery, innovation and improvement over the next three years.

The plans, which were approved at a meeting of the NHS Board on 25th May 2021, form part of the Health Board’s wider vision to reduce waiting times and deliver better outcomes for patients.

Collectively, they will lead to significant investment in community services, stroke services, outpatient clinics and theatre sessions to help tackle the backlog of non-urgent operations and appointments which has built up during the Covid-19 pandemic. Following confirmation that Falkirk Community Hospital is one of a number of community facilities identified in the Scottish Government’s capital investment programme for upgrading or renewal, work will also be taken forward to develop a new masterplan for the Falkirk Community Hospital site in partnership with Falkirk Council.

Cathie Cowan

Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive

Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, said: “These exciting and ambitious plans will not only help us recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but will also support the development of more sustainable services.

“This will ensure we are able to keep pace with future demand and improve health outcomes by ensuring local patients can access support and treatment at an early stage. Investing in community-based services like Hospital at Home will also help prevent hospital admissions and reduce pressure on local GP and Emergency Department services.”

NHS Forth Valley’s Board members welcomed the wider vision to develop more sustainable local healthcare services and unanimously supported the proposals to reduce waiting times, deliver better outcomes and invest in the health workforce across primary, community and hospital services.

Clinical staff, who were closely involved in the development of the proposals, were delighted the plans have been approved. Dr Sara Else, Associate Medical Director for Scheduled Care, NHS Forth Valley, explained: “Even before the pandemic, like many areas across Scotland, we were experiencing capacity issues in a number of specialities including orthopaedics, urology and gastroenterology. This, coupled with the impact of the pandemic and the ongoing rise in demand, would have led to increasingly longer waits for patients if we did not take action to address it.”

“We therefore looked at what we needed to do, not just to tackle the backlog, but to create more sustainable services for the future by increasing capacity, developing new and more innovative ways of delivering services, upskilling existing staff and recruiting a number of additional staff.”

The wide-ranging remobilisation, recovery and redesign plans include specific proposals to:

  • Increase outpatient clinics to create additional capacity to see thousands of extra new and return patients each week.
  • Increase theatre capacity to carry out thousands of additional operations and day case procedures each year.
  • Carry out more minor operations in treatment rooms to free up theatre space and create more capacity for minor procedures to be carried out.
  • Introduce additional operating sessions at Falkirk Community Hospital for ophthalmic day case surgery to create the capacity to carry out thousands of extra eye operations each year.
  • Develop a new masterplan for the Falkirk Community Hospital site in partnership with Falkirk Council to support local health and care services. This could include the potential development of a primary care hub to house a number of GP practices, community and outpatient services and take account of plans for a new intermediate care facility.
  • Continue to use video consultations, patient-initiated return appointments and initiatives which support recovery after surgery will help avoid unnecessary trips to hospital and reduce the length of stay for those who require to be admitted.
  • Continue to support the National Treatment Centre Programme at Forth Valley Royal Hospital though the expansion of MRI imaging, the opening of two new operating theatres and the creation of an additional 30 bed inpatient ward for patients undergoing hip and knee surgery.
  • Recruit or provide additional advanced training for more than 90 additional staff to support the phased expansion plans and service developments. This includes surgical nurse practitioners, trainee operating department practitioners, advanced nurse practitioners, pharmacists, junior doctors and consultants. Initial recruitment of 11 Speciality Fellows and additional theatre staff and trainees is already underway.
  • Develop more detailed plans to support the ongoing development and improvement of local primary care services and premises, continue to develop the new Hospital at Home service, invest in local stroke services and secure additional funding associated with the increased costs of delivering prison healthcare services in the three national prisons within the Forth Valley Health Board area.