Patients who need surgery will be treated quicker with the opening of a new theatre in Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
Due to come online next Monday, it is the first of two facilities being brought into operation by the health authority this year.
These are the latest in a raft of measures being introduced to increase diagnostic, surgical and inpatient capacity and are part of a £17 million investment to reduce waiting times.
Extra operating lists are already running in the hospital’s existing 14 theatres, including extended sessions at weekends enabling hundreds of extra operations to be performed.
NHS Forth Valley has also added to its workforce to manage the increased theatre activity, successfully recruiting 13 theatre nurses, four consultant anaesthetists and two consultant orthopaedic surgeons.
Further staff will be recruited over the next few months to support the opening of the second new theatre which is due to come on stream later this year.
The health authority estimates it will be able to carry out at least an additional 1500 operations, both day and inpatient procedures, each year once both theatres are up and running.
A new MRI scanner is due to be installed in the Larbert hospital in the next few weeks and additional inpatient beds will also be provided on the site to support the increased theatre activity.
The investment is part of the Scottish Government’s National Waiting Times Improvement Plan and national elective care centre programme.
Liz MacLeod, NHS Forth Valley’s theatre manager, said: “Credit is due to the entire theatre team who have worked incredibly hard over the last six months to ensure the first new theatre opens on time. Everyone is very excited about the expansion plans and we are delighted to have successfully recruited additional theatre nurses, orthopaedic surgeons and anaesthetists to support this major new national development.”
Meanwhile, chief executive Cathie Cowan gave a commitment the team taking forward the expansion of theatre, diagnostic and inpatient care at Forth Valley Royal would be expanded “to help drive forward change, spread good practice and monitor progress across the organisation”.
She praised efforts to improve performance, adding: “I am keen to build on these achievements whilst acknowledging what needs to be better, working closely with our staff, partners, patients, volunteers and community organisations to improve healthcare for our local population.”