NHS Forth Valley takes action to ease pressure on health services

Capacity and staffing pressures have forced NHS Forth Valley to take steps to help health professionals cope with rising patient numbers as COVID-19 cases increase.

By James Trimble
Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 8:10 am

NHS Forth Valley chief executive Cathie Cowan said: “We continue to experience unprecedented pressures on our services, however, despite this, our staff continue to show great professionalism, commitment, and compassion for local patients and each other.

"Likewise, we are also seeing increasing demand for care in our communities along with significant staffing challenges. So far, we have managed to maintain the delivery of a wide range of outpatient clinics, diagnostic scans and planned operations however this is being kept under regular review in line with available capacity.

“Both local Health and Social Care Partnerships and our colleagues in primary care are doing everything possible to meet demand and enable prompt transfers of care to support local patients and their families at this very difficult time.”

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NHS Forth Valley has taken steps to deal with increasing pressure on health and care services

Like most parts of Scotland, NHS Forth Valley has seen an increase in emergency department attendances which are now similar to pre-COVID-19 levels. Many of the patients who attend are also very unwell and require to be admitted to hospital which is putting additional pressure on inpatient capacity.

Local social care and care home services are also facing significant staffing pressures along with increasing demand for home care and support services, particularly for people with complex needs.

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This means that even when patients are well enough to leave hospital, they can often face delays in returning home or moving to a local care home.

To address these pressures, a new strategic structure has been established led by NHS Forth Valley’s chief executive.

Here are the decisions and additional investments which have been made so far:

- 50 additional inpatient beds and treatment areas, including additional beds in Forth Valley Royal Hospital, local community hospitals and social care facilities have been added

- Over 100 more nurses, including 80 for Forth Valley Royal Hospital, have been recruited to fill vacancies and invest in a number of new nursing posts

- Day Surgery has been expanded to enable more operations to be carried out

- A seven-day Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) service has been created to support faster patient rehabilitation and discharge

- The Hospital @ Home has been expanded to enable them to support more local people in their own homes

- Additional care home beds have been commissioned to help reduce delays for patients are ready to leave hospital but require to be transferred to a care home for ongoing support as there are currently around 100 patients in local hospitals waiting for a care home place or package of care at home

- More than 80 additional healthcare support workers have been recruited to support local care at home services which are also experiencing severe service pressures due to COVID-19

- New arrangements which enable GPs and hospital-based clinicians to work collaboratively across Forth Valley to support the delivery of urgent care have been trialled

- Social care placement opportunities for students at Forth Valley College have been created to add to the local social care workforce

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