New Urology Hub Opens in Forth Valley
A new Urology Hub has opened at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to help improve the diagnosis of bladder and prostate cancers and carry out a range of surgical procedures.
Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, who visited the Urology Hub to see first-hand the difference the new facility is making to local patients and hear how NHS Forth Valley has transformed local urology services, said:
“This new facility will make a huge difference to local people across Forth Valley who require tests and treatment for a wide range of bladder and prostate conditions.
“It forms part of wider national plans to support the faster diagnosis of cancers and other illnesses of the urology system, bladder and prostate across Scotland.”
The purpose-built Urology Hub (with three dedicated treatment rooms, two patient recovery bays and a central waiting and changing area) brings the expertise of the entire urology team together in the one area and provides a one-stop diagnostic and treatment service for local patients. It has also enabled a wide range of surgical procedures, such as vasectomies and circumcisions to be taken out of operating theatres and undertaken in treatment rooms within the Hub. This has increased theatre capacity and freed up lists for more complex surgical operations.
NHS Forth Valley has also transformed local urology services to address workforce challenges, reduce waiting lists and create an improved, more sustainable service. This has included training new and existing staff to take on new roles and responsibilities and enable the majority of routine work to be delivered by advanced nurse or surgical care practitioners, with the support of the consultant team.
For example, a new Surgical Care Practitioner (SCP) has been trained to carry out a wide range of minor operations, including vasectomies and circumcisions, which account for a significant part of the waiting list. The SCP now reviews these patients in outpatient clinics and operates on them independently under both local and general anaesthetic.
Urology nurses have also received additional training and these advanced nurse practitioners now carry out the vast majority of diagnostic procedures. These include cystoscopies (which use a flexible thin tube with a camera to examine the bladder and urethra and are also used to monitor patients with bladder cancer), prostate biopsies (where an ultrasound probe is used to collect tissue samples which can then be tested for cancerous cells), bladder botox injections, uroflowmetry tests (which measure the flow of urine) and prostate cancer diagnosis and care.
NHS Forth Valley Consultant Urologist, Mr Craig Mcilhenny, is confident that the new Urology Hub and development of extended nursing roles will help the team respond to increases in demand and keep waiting times as low as possible for local patients.
He explained: “With an ageing population we are seeing an increase in more common urological conditions. There is also an increased awareness of the symptoms of prostate, bladder or testicular cancers as well as more people feeling confident to contact health services for issues that they previously may have been too embarrassed to ask for help with, such as incontinence.
“The creation of this new Urology Hub at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, along with the significant investment in staff training and development, has helped us to significantly reduce our waiting list despite the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also ensures we have greater flexibility and can quickly adapt to the changing needs of local patients, now and in the future.”
NHS Forth Valley Senior Charge Nurse for Urology Services, Celia McDermott, also believes the new facilities has helped improved experience of patients requiring urology tests or treatment as simply things like having the changing areas and treatment rooms closer together is more convenient and ensures the dignity and privacy of patients can be prioritised at all times.
She explained: “Coming to hospital for a urology procedure is perhaps not at the top of anyone’s wish list, but the new Urology Hub helps us to ensure the experience is as comfortable as possible. It’s exciting to see this centre come to fruition and, as a team, we are very much enjoying working with our patients in this new facility.
Prior to the creation of the new Urology Hub, urology procedures were carried out in either theatres or in a minor operation area within the Ambulatory Care Department where it had to compete for space alongside other specialities.
The development of the Diagnostic Urology hub at Forth Valley Royal Hospital is part of the Scottish Government’s Endoscopy and Urology Diagnostic Recovery and Renewal Plan.
The £70 million plan, which was published in November 2021, aims to support the faster diagnosis of cancers and other illnesses of the digestive system, bladder and prostate.