Members of Forth Valley NHS health board heard that the under-pressure hospital is gradually seeing improvements in many areas – but there are still concerns around diagnostic services.
All of these were seriously affected in the week leading up to Christmas and during the festive season, with a high number of staff self-isolating, coinciding with a significant rise in referrals.
The board was told that seven radiographers were isolating due to Covid over Christmas and into the new year.
This led to many patients having long waits, taking them beyond the six-week target for ultrasound and CT scans.
But NHS Forth Valley’s board members also heard that there had also been high numbers of patients not turning up, leading to wasted appointments.
For ultrasound, more than 10 per cent of patients had failed to appear for their appointment.
Chief executive Cathie Cowan told members that it was often a problem that people did not attend for appointments over the festive period and said it was “really disappointing”.
And that traditional problem had been made worse this year.
Swabbing to test for Covid is required in advance for endoscopy and many people were reluctant to jeopardise their celebrations.
However, board members heard that while the problems were worse at Christmas they are part of ongoing issues that means appointments are wasted.
Patients are being urged to tell staff if they cannot attend for any reason so that someone else can benefit.
However, board members heard that it wasn’t always easy for people to get through to the hospital on the phone so people often gave up when trying to cancel.
They are also told more clearly in their appointment letter how to cancel online, with no need to phone.
The manager of radiology is now working closely with NHS Lothian to see if they can get any external support.
Board members were told they would be kept updated on the situation to see that improvements were being made.