SERIOUS concerns are being raised over A&E waiting times at NHS Forth Valley as less than half of patients were seen within the four-hour target.

MSP Alex Rowley has written to the cabinet secretary for health over the matter, after figures from Public Health Scotland showed that on the week ending July 2, only 47.6 per cent of people were seen within the four-hour target.

Less than a quarter, 23.7 per cent, of people waited more than eight hours at Forth Valley Royal Hospital's emergency department that week and around a tenth waited more than 12 hours.

The figure placed NHS Forth Valley at the bottom of the list of boards for that week while 48.6 per cent of people were seen within four hours the week before.

Repeated calls for action have been made in recent years as the health board struggles to meet the Scottish Government's target of 95 per cent of people needing to be seen, admitted, discharged or transferred.

NHS Forth Valley manages just one emergency department, meaning the hospital's performance mirrors that of the health board overall.

Even when it comes to a hospital-to-hospital comparison, Forth Valley only performed better than Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where the figure stood at 45 per cent.

Mr Rowley said there is enormous pressure on health and social care services and blamed the Scottish Government for not providing enough support to alleviate pressures.

He said: "Here we have over half of attendees to NHS Forth Valley waiting over four hours, almost a quarter waiting over eight hours and one in ten waiting for over 12 hours – something isn't right."

He added: "The Scottish Government needs to get a grip on this matter, the previous health secretary is now first minister, yet no action seems to have been taken and more and more people are being let down."

Forth Valley Royal Hospital at Larbert

Forth Valley Royal Hospital at Larbert

Capacity challenges are at the heart of the issue, according to NHS Forth Valley, with some seriously-ill patients requiring admission for treatment alongside high numbers of discharge delays.

A spokesperson for the health board added: "Good progress is being made in reducing the number of patients experiencing very long waits and efforts continue to free up capacity and reduce delays in health and care services across Forth Valley.

"A new dedicated entrance to the Urgent Care Centre at Forth Valley Royal Hospital has recently been created to enable ambulance crews to bring patients directly to the centre for assessment and treatment.

"This will not only enable patients to be seen quicker but will also help free up capacity in the emergency department."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "A&E performance is not where we want it to be, and we know that sustained improvement is needed.

"We are working closely with NHS Forth Valley, and other health boards facing the greatest challenges in A&E, to drive down waiting times and improve services for patients and staff.

"Hospital bed occupancy continues to be a major factor impacting on performance which is why we are working to reduce instances of delayed discharge and are continuing to expand our Hospital at Home capacity."