The new 30-bedded orthopaedic ward is part of a network of National Treatment Centres being built throughout Scotland to increase capacity and reduce waiting times.
The Forth Valley centre will enable an extra 1500 operations to be carried out every year, mainly hip and knee joint replacement surgery.
Today (Thursday) Cathie Cowan, chief executive of NHS Forth Valley, led the groundbreaking ceremony at the site to the rear of the hospital, between the emergency department and the mental health unit.
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She said: “Staff across the organisation have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to deliver this major expansion programme and I’m delighted that we are now marking the beginning of the final stage in this important national development.
“This will ensure we are able to keep pace with increased demand and reduce waiting times for the thousands of patients who require hip or knee surgery every year.”
The new ward is the final part of a £17 million investment which has also funded the opening of two additional operating theatres in FVRH and a state-of-the-art MRI scanner.
Gillian Morton, the programme director for the National Treatment Centre Forth Valley, said that the state-of-the-art building is only one part of the difference it will make for patients.
She said: “I’m just really excited about it – anything that’s new and makes care quicker and better is exciting. The patients will come in and they will be out very quickly – within 24 or 48 hours and then they will get back to normal life.”
“A lot of people are being trained in new skills and new expertise as part of the programme. There has been lots of learning as we have developed this and the clinical team have been absolutely brilliant – they are keen to bring in new, innovative practice.”
As the centre will not just be used by Forth Valley patients, they say that there will also be opportunities to learn from best practice in other areas.
Ms Cowan said the national approach will also mean more consistent care for patients across Scotland.
“Staff have really stepped up and embraced new practices – as they always have done – and this development allows us to put that enthusiasm into practice for the benefit of patients and their families,” she said.
Ms Cowan is also delighted that so far 90 additional staff have been recruited to support the development of the treatment centre. These include theatre nurses, anaesthetists, orthopaedic surgeons, theatre practitioners, healthcare support workers, staff nurses and clinical team leaders.
Health Secretary Humza Yousef said he was pleased that construction has begun on the new inpatient ward, calling it a “significant milestone”.
He added: “We know the pandemic has taken its toll on services like orthopaedics, but the network of NTCs – including the new centre in Forth Valley – will help address this and be central to NHS recovery.
“I would like to thank the NHS Forth Valley team for their continued dedication and commitment to this project during a time of continued significant pressure.”