Figures highlight decline in number of hospital beds

Official statistics show that Scotland's hospitals have lost more than 8,000 beds since 2003, with NHS Lanarkshire losing up to 9.5 per cent.

The latest statistics show 21,028 non-acute hospital beds acorss Scotland, compared to 29,445 13 years ago – a drop of almost 30 per cent.

Monklands Hospital has dropped from 527 beds to 477 (9.5 per cent), Wishaw General from 588 to 552 (6.2 per cent), and Hairmyres from 499 to 486 (2.6 per cent).

Commenting, Central Scotland Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell said: “I am fully aware that the way people are being treated is changing, with more patienmts receiving the care they need outwith hospital settings.

“However the SNP cannot just hide behind that argument when bed numbers have dropped nationwide by nearly a third since 2003.

“It is hugely significant that some hospitals in Lanarkshire have seen a substantial decline in the number of beds, particularly at Monklands Hospital.

“The population is increasing and ageing and the pressure on our NHS is as never before. The Scottish Government has to get the balance right.

“Simply cutting the number of beds without thinking of the consequences is not the way to go about it.

Judith Park, NHS Lanarkshire director of access, said: “This bed reduction has had no negative impact on the quality of patient services or activity. Due to significant developments in the way that we deliver care to patients, in terms of improved clinical services and pre-operative practices, we have seen an overall reduction in the need for patients to stay overnight when undergoing certain surgical procedures.

“Improvements have been made that have resulted in increases in day-cases and same-day admissions; the result is that the previous inpatient bed compliment is no longer required.

Janice Hewitt, Chief Accountable Officer of North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “During the public engagement of our healthcare strategy Achieving Excellence, and Strategic Commissioning Plans from North and South, the people of Lanarkshire clearly stated that, where it is safe to do so, they would like to receive their care at home or in a familiar community setting.

“The aim set out in the three strategic plans is that through the use of appropriate health, support and care services, patients are able to stay healthy at home, or in a community setting, as long as possible.”