Positive picture highlighted at Fife health board annual review

© DC Thomson
Health secretary Shona Robison.

NHS Fife has highlighted improved performance in a number of areas at its annual review in St Andrews.

The event, held at the University of St Andrews’ School of Medicine, was an opportunity for members of the public to assess the health board’s performance over the past 12 months and consider the opportunities and challenges it has faced.

As ever, it was a mixed picture, with improvements across a number of key waiting-time targets highlighted and developments including the £4.4 million investment in the Hollyview Ward at Stratheden Hospital lauded as part of a commitment made by NHS Fife last year to improve mental health services.

NHS Fife also started work on its role in a new graduate entry medical degree, which is being developed in conjunction with St Andrews University and other universities and health boards to boost GP recruitment and retention in rural areas.

However, the review also identified areas where work is needed, particularly the number of cancer patients beginning their treatment within 62 days of their initial referral – which is currently below the Scottish average.

NHS Fife chairman Allan Burns, who announced his decision to step down in December, said the review was an important day in the calendar.

“NHS Fife provides services to more than 360,000 people and it is important we take every opportunity to engage with our patients,” he said.

“This review was a platform for both NHS Fife and members of the public to reflect on how we are doing and ask questions about the services we provide.

“It is not just an opportunity for us to showcase where we are successful, it is also important to highlight where there are particular challenges and how we intend to tackle these head on to continue providing high quality healthcare for people across Fife.”

This year’s review was attended by Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, who heard that NHS Fife has undergone three unannounced assessments by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, all of which recognised significantly improved performance on previous visits.

Improvements had also been made in key waiting times targets, with NHS Fife outperforming the national average in many areas.

Significant service redesign at the Victoria Hospital meant 96.6% of patients attending accident and emergency were seen within the four hour target, exceeding the national average of 94.1%.

Elsewhere, innovations around the way patients are assessed upon arrival reduced the number of admissions to hospital by 25%, whilst NHS Fife again outperformed the national average by ensuring 97% of patients diagnosed with cancer began their treatment within 31 days.

More than 98% of inpatients were seen within the 18-week treatment time guarantee and 96.2% of outpatients were seen within the same timeframe.

Chief executive Paul Hawkins concluded: “NHS Fife is committed to ensuring patients have access to safe, effective, high quality care when they require it.

“Therefore, it is particularly satisfying to note that we continue to improve across a number of important areas and that waiting times for crucial services including accident and emergency, 31-day cancer treatment and outpatient appointments continue to be above the Government-set standard and the national average.”