NHS Forth Valley has poorest treatment waiting times record in Scotland

Additional theatre capacity is to be provided at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to try to cut lengthy waiting times
Additional theatre capacity is to be provided at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to try to cut lengthy waiting times

More patients in Falkirk district could face weekend appointments for crucial operations after it emerged NHS Forth Valley has the lowest treatment time record in Scotland.

Latest health figures have revealed just over half — 56.1 per cent — of inpatients or day patients waiting for hospital treatment were seen within the Scottish Government’s 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee from April to June — even though 99.1 per cent of those received diagnostic tests within a six-week target.

Under governmental guidelines, patients shouldn’t wait longer than six weeks for one of eight key diagnostic tests, including endoscopies, colonoscopies, MRI and CT scans, which are often used to detect cancer. In total, those needing medical help should have their journey from seeing a GP to starting treatment completed within 18 weeks or 126 days.

However, at Forth Valley Royal Hospital (FVRH), it took an average of 207 days for 90 per cent of inpatients or day patients to be admitted between April and June. Having faced criticism, the local health board has announced it plans to increase Saturday and Sunday operations to try to address the issue.

An NHS Forth Valley spokeswoman said: “Figures from July 2018 show that almost 87 per cent of patients were treated within 18 weeks of referral against a government target of 90 per cent. Whilst we have experienced challenges in meeting the 12-week treatment time target, we are continuing to do everything possible to reduce delays.

“Additional theatre capacity is being provided, including a number of weekend sessions, to increase the number of operations we can carry out each week. This will help reduce waiting times for orthopaedic and general surgery where we are experiencing particular high demand. Priority continues to be given to patients who require urgent treatment and those who have experienced longer waits.”

Cancer treatment waiting times at FVRH also fell below the national average.

From January to March, patients waited an average of 45 days from an urgent referral to a first treatment, compared to 43 days nationwide. There was an average 84-day wait for 90 per cent of those patients to receive treatment — ten more than the Scotland-wide figure.

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s head of external affairs, said: “These statistics suggest that the NHS in Scotland does not have enough staff to be as effective as possible in diagnosing cancer. It’s vital patients receive the right tests and results in good time.”

Central Scotland MSP Elaine Smith said: “Services and staff are under immense strain after years of underfunding. That’s why Labour has a plan to ensure the NHS is able to not just survive but thrive for the next 70 years. We will use the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament to deliver more money for our NHS and carry out a health inequality assessment of every government policy to ensure a positive impact on health outcomes.”