A LARGELY positive report on NHS Forth Valley by the public spending watchdog highlighted improvements in performance against most key targets.

A report on the local health board for 2018-19, released last week by Audit Scotland, showed performance improvements in seven of eight key targets since March 2018.

However, as at March this year, the board could still not meet national targets in four areas, at the same time being above national averages in six areas.

One of the most dramatic improvements came in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

As reported by the Advertiser last September, there was a three month period leading into the summer when less than 50 per cent of young people were seen within the 18-week target set by the Scottish Government.

A local parent opened up to highlight the affects on young people and their families, saying life with little to no support had been a "nightmare".

At the time, the health board told the Advertiser it had been hit by staffing challenges, but steady improvement was expected.

And, according to figures highlighted by Audit Scotland, that improvement was delivered with 90.2 per cent of children seen within the 18 week target, meeting government expectations.

Auditors said: "There has been a sustained improvement in this position during the year following a programme of service redesign which includes re-established links with wider primary care and universal services to provide support through early advice in support of preventing referrals."

While there was improvement in the same service for adults, where the target is also 18 weeks, the figure was still only at 67.1 per cent and below the Scottish average at March 2019.

The report explained: "Recruitment is underway to fill key posits. Healthcare Improvement Scotland is working with the service to assist with improvement plans."

Another notable improvement was in A&E waiting times, which shot up to 95.8 per cent of patients admitted within four hours from arrival.

The figure was as low as 78.3 per cent in November 2018 and the board was moved to stage three of the escalation framework, which means it required "tailored support" – which came from North of England Commissioning Support.

When it came to money matters, NHS Forth Valley "met all its financial targets for 2018-19", achieving an underspend of around £200,000 – although both the health and social care partnerships it is involved in reported overspends.

However, auditors added: "The board has assessed that some £8million to £10million of the savings plans required to deliver a balanced financial position in 2019-20 are at risk of not being achieved, which could impact on its ability to deliver a balanced financial position."

Future assumptions are that the health board will need to save as much as £60.1m over the coming years to 2023-24.