NHS Forth Valley sets out future plans and priorities

Action to reduce inequalities and improve access to services will be taken forward over the next year as part of wider plans to improve health and care across Forth Valley.

NHS Forth Valley’s Annual Operational Plan for 2019/20 outlines plans and priorities for the year ahead and estimates the savings which will be required to be made over the next three years. It covers five key areas including improving health and reducing inequalities (with a focus on primary care, mental health, prison healthcare and maternity services) improving care (which concentrates on improving access to emergency care, cancer care, diagnostic tests, outpatient appointments, inpatient and day treatment), providing safe care, working in partnership, developing the workforce. It also includes financial plans which highlight the need to deliver around £36m of savings over the next three years to address rising medicines, wages and supplies costs as well as increasing demand for services as a result of changing demographics.

Several key areas have been identified to help achieve these savings, many of which will improve outcomes for local patients. These include delivering better value by reducing waste, improving efficiency and reducing variation. Opportunities for digital developments and innovation will be maximised, including more virtual and telephone clinics to avoid unnecessary outpatient appointments and work will continue to further reduce spend on bank and agency staff.

NHS Forth Valley Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, said: “Healthcare services need to be sustainable and affordable so, alongside our ambition to deliver further improvements, we also need ensure we make the best use of the resources available and plan ahead to meet future demand.

“In the last 18 months since I took over as Chief Executive I have seen many examples of innovative work, great patient care and excellent services. This is reflected in the recent improvement in our performance in 7 of the 8 key national standards. I am keen to build on these achievements whilst acknowledging what needs to be better, working closely with our staff, partners, patients, volunteers and community organisations to improve healthcare for our local population.

To help support this improvement work, the dedicated team set up to take forward the expansion of theatre, diagnostic and inpatient care at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, will be expanded to help drive forward change, spread good practice and monitor progress across the organisation.”

Scott Urquhart, NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Finance, said: “NHS Forth Valley successfully delivered all of its financial targets for 2018/19 which is a significant achievement and we are now focussing on our longer term financial plans. Like many other Health Boards across the country, we continue to face challenging financial times due a number of pressures including rising drug costs and increasing demand.

“As a result, we estimate we will need to make around £36m of savings across the organisation over the next three years to ensure we continue to deliver a balanced budget each year. We aim to achieve this through a wide range of initiatives designed to reduce waste, deliver the best value from the available resources and maximise the use of new technology across the organisation.”