Major Falkirk hospital redevelopment in three-year health services plan

A major redevelopment of Falkirk Community Hospital is just part of plans that have just been announced to help the local NHS recover from the pandemic and improve services.

NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, set out the ambitious plans which will benefit stroke services, outpatient clinics and increase theatre sessions to help tackle the backlog of operations that has built up during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Forth Valley NHS board, which approved the plans when it met on May 25, also heard that Falkirk Community Hospital will be included in the Scottish Government’s capital investment programme for upgrading or renewal.

That means work will now be taken forward, with NHS Forth Valley working closely with Falkirk Council to develop a new masterplan for the site.

Falkirk Community Hospital.

Options currently being looked at include the potential development of a primary care hub to house a number of GP practices, community and outpatient services.

There are also plans for a new intermediate care facility and more details will be released soon.

However, Ms Cowan said the investment as a whole would mean finding better ways to ensure patients get support and treatment as early as possible.

Ms Cowan said: “These exciting and ambitious plans will not only help us recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but will also support the development of more sustainable services.

"Investing in community-based services like Hospital at Home will also help prevent hospital admissions and reduce pressure on local GP and Emergency Department services.”

NHS Forth Valley’s Board members unanimously supported the proposals to reduce waiting times, deliver better outcomes and invest in the health workforce across primary, community and hospital services.

Clinical staff, who were closely involved in the development of the proposals, were delighted the plans have been approved.

Dr Sara Else, associate medical director for scheduled care, NHS Forth Valley, explained: “Even before the pandemic, like many areas across Scotland, we were experiencing capacity issues in a number of specialities including orthopaedics, urology and gastroenterology.

"This, coupled with the impact of the pandemic and the ongoing rise in demand, would have led to increasingly longer waits for patients if we did not take action to address it.”

“We therefore looked at what we needed to do, not just to tackle the backlog, but to create more sustainable services for the future by increasing capacity, developing new and more innovative ways of delivering services, upskilling existing staff and recruiting a number of additional staff.”

The wide-ranging remobilisation, recovery and redesign plans include specific proposals to:

Increase outpatient clinics in order to see thousands of extra new and return patients each week.

Increase theatre capacity to carry out thousands of additional operations and day case procedures each year.

Introduce additional operating sessions at Falkirk Community Hospital for ophthalmic day case surgery to carry out thousands of extra eye operations each year.

Continue to use video consultations, patient-initiated return appointments and initiatives which support recovery after surgery

Recruit or provide additional advanced training for more than 90 additional staff

Continue to develop the new Hospital at Home service, invest in local stroke services and secure additional funding associated with the increased costs of delivering prison healthcare services in the three national prisons within the Forth Valley Health Board area.