Theatre Activity Returns to Normal Capacity

Theatre activity at Forth Valley Royal Hospital has returned to normal capacity following a six-week period where a number of non-urgent operations were postponed to help reduce significant capacity pressures across the site and free up staff to support critical health services.

This was necessary as a sharp increase in Covid-19 infection in early January 2022 had resulted in high numbers of staff absences.

This was the first time NHS Forth Valley postponed planned operations since non-urgent health services restarted across Scotland in August 2020. Emergency and more urgent operations were not affected and more than 1160 operations took place during the six-week period. Outpatient and minor operation clinics also continued to operate and a number of additional clinics were arranged to increase support for local patients.

Around 80 highly skilled and experienced staff, mainly from day surgery and theatre teams, who were redeployed to support critical services and provide cover for other areas experiencing staff shortages, have now returned to their roles to enable theatre activity to return to normal levels. A total of 343 people had their scheduled operations postponed during the six period however 67 (around 20%) of these patients have already had their surgery and the majority of the remaining operations take place at the end of February and during March 2022.

Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive of NHS Forth Valley, said: “This temporary measure helped protect vital emergency, cancer care and other critical health services and ensured patients who were seriously unwell continued to receive the vital care they needed.

“I would like to thank local staff, along with colleagues in primary care, who have worked tirelessly to maintain local services, including those who worked in different wards and departments over the last six weeks to support colleagues throughout this very challenging period. I would also like to thank local patients whose operations were postponed for their patience and understanding and reassure them that everything possible is being done to reschedule these procedures quickly as possible.”

Local hospitals across the Forth Valley area are still experiencing significant capacity pressures and work continues with partners and local voluntary organisations to reduce delays for the many patients who are experiencing delays in being discharged. This includes arranging alternative, more suitable, accommodation and facilities where people can stay on a temporary basis while they wait for a package of care or a place in a local care home.