Visitors to Forth Valley hospitals can now take advantage of flexible visiting times when seeing their family and friends.
From the end of March, general inpatient wards at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and the four community hospitals at Falkirk, Bo’ness, Stirling and Clackmannanshire will welcome visitors any time from 11.30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Inpatient mental health wards will also extend their opening times, from 3-8 p.m.
The shake up follows a successful pilot trial with three wards at Forth Valley Royal.
Senior nurse Catriona Addison works in gynaecology where the flexible visiting times were piloted. She said: “Overall, this has not caused us any problems. People have been very appreciative of the extended hours and patients have felt much better that members of their family have been able to be with them at different times throughout the day.”
Previously most inpatient wards were only open for one hour in the afternoon and 90 minutes in the evening.
This put a strain on parking, particularly at Forth Valley Royal, with patients missing appointments and relatives being held up for visiting times as they were unable to find a space.
Professor Angela Wallace, NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Nursing, said: “Extended visiting times offers greater flexibility, particularly for people who work full-time or rely on public transport.”
Since the hospital opened in 2011 residents surrounding the facility have complained of staff, patients and visitors using their streets as an extension of the car park.
The issue has been topic of discussion several times at Larbert, Stenhouseuir and Torwood Community Council.
Secretary Yvonne Weir said: “We welcome the changes and we would certainly hope that they will have a positive impact and assist in reducing parking congestion.”