Another milestone was reached by the district’s long-awaited hospital this week.
Forth Valley Royal has been fully operational for 12 months, treating tens of thousands of patients and welcoming over 3300 babies into the world.
The replacement for Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and its counterpart in Stirling, opened for business in three stages, with the first admissions in August 2010, followed by the opening of the mental health unit two months later.
But last July saw it handling all the acute care for the region, which goes from Killin and Tyndrum in the north to Strathblane and Bo’ness in the south, and its 300,000-strong population.
One of the most modern hospitals in Europe, it is equipped with a state-of-the-art robotic delivery system, robotic pharmacy and mail sorting centre.
Visitors from all over the world have been to view the iconic hospital building and its impressive facilities.
Alex Linkston, who took over as chairman of NHS Forth Valley, the health authority which runs the hospital, earlier this year, said the last 12 months had been impressive.
He said: “Many of the services and facilities available at the new hospital, including those in the oncology department and renal dialysis unit, have enabled more patients to be treated locally. Future developments, such as the building of the new Maggie’s Centre in the hospital grounds, will also benefit cancer patients and their families.”
From the laying of the foundations in November 2007 to the first admissions less than three years later, a massive construction project took place – the largest NHS build of its time in Scotland.
However, NHS staff were also involved in the design and planning stage, as well as ensuring the changeover from the two district hospitals to the streamlined single-site facility ran smoothly.
Professor Fiona Mackenzie, NHS Forth Valley chief executive, said: “I would like to thank staff for the huge efforts they have made in the past year to achieve such excellent results.
‘‘It is always difficult adjusting to a new location and ways of working. However, our workforce have risen admirably to the challenge.”
But the new hospital is not just about treatment and places strong emphasis on therapy with three physiotherapy gyms. The largest is shared with the cardiac rehabilitation team which runs nine weekly exercise and education classes for patients with heart conditions.
Exercise and education classes also take place in the gym for people with respiratory problems.
The site for the new hospital was only selected after a lengthy period of public consultation – and several decades of boardroom debate before the initiative was finally taken to move the project from the planning stage to reality.
Former chairman Ian Mullen was credited for the move and prior to his retiral from the post in February this year, said it had been the main reason he had taken on the role.
The former Royal Scottish National Hospital grounds were considered most suitable on many levels, including already being in NHS ownership and its close proximity to main motorway and public transport links.
One year on from the official opening by HM The Queen, Forth Valley Royal Hospital is now firmly established as a much-used and respected facility by the communities it serves.