Winter illnesses add to existing pressures as more than half of Forth Valley A&E patients still waiting longer than four hours

Pressure continues to be placed on Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s accident and emergency department as more than half of patients attending were waiting more than four hours according to latest figures.
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According to a report published by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday in the week ending January 14, only 44.4 per cent of those attending Forth Valley Royal’s A&E department were seen, treated, admitted or discharged within the four hour target.

The latest figure is an improvement on the previous week when the number of people waiting longer than four hours had reached its highest level since December 2022 with just 39.7 per cent of people dealt with within the target timeframe.

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However, the pressure on the region’s A&E board continues to be seen with figures showing more than half of people having experienced lengthy waits since September 3 last year. During that week, 55.3 per cent of people were treated, admitted or discharged within four hours. The Scottish Government’s four hour access target is 95 per cent.

Patients continue to face long waits at Forth Valley Royal's A&E department.  (Pic: Michael Gillen)Patients continue to face long waits at Forth Valley Royal's A&E department.  (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Patients continue to face long waits at Forth Valley Royal's A&E department. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

The latest figures also show that 31.9 per cent of the 955 attending A&E waited more than eight hours and 22 per cent waited more than 12.

Although the Larbert hospital did not have the lowest achievement rate of all the hospitals in Scotland – Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary were lower with 41.7 per cent and 42 per cent respectively – as NHS Forth Valley has just one A&E site the data does again show it as the lowest performing health board.

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said the hospital, like many in Scotland, continues to face “capacity challenges” with many seriously ill patients requiring admission for treatment along with high numbers of patients experiencing delays in being discharged.

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She continued: “A range of work is being taken forward to help free up capacity and help prevent hospital admissions. This includes providing more care and support in local homes and communities and developing more services to support frail, older people with more complex health and care needs.

“In the meantime, local staff and partners are doing everything possible to reduce delays and patients with more serious illnesses and injuries who require urgent care continue to be prioritised.”

Jonathan Horwood, NHS Forth Valley’s infection control manager, added: “Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and we are still seeing cases although the numbers of patients testing positive has stabilised in recent weeks. We have, however, seen an recent increase in cases of flu, RSV, Norovirus and other winter related illnesses over the last few weeks which has added to the existing winter pressures.”

NHS Forth Valley is continuing to encourage anyone who needs health advice for an injury or illness which isn’t life threatening to use the symptom checkers on NHS Inform’s website; call NHS 24 on 111 for advice; speak to a local pharmacist or arrange an appointment with a member of their GP practice team, which includes mental health nurses and physiotherapists.