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Lib Dems call for action on hospital beds

Official figures show available staffed NHS beds across acute specialities are down 1.6%.

The Scottish Government must ensure there are enough NHS staffed beds available in acute specialities to meet demand, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.

The party’s health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton raised concerns after official statistics showed the number of these beds available has fallen.

Figures published by ISD Scotland show there were on average 13,349 available staffed beds for all acute specialities in the quarter ending December 31, a drop of 1.6% on the same period the previous year.

Staff regularly tell me that there simply aren't enough beds Alex Cole-Hamilton

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “People will be worried that acute bed capacity has fallen again. Staff regularly tell me that there simply aren’t enough beds.

“The SNP has failed when it comes to social care, mental health, primary care and delayed discharge, and as a result more work is piling up at hospitals’ doors.

“While it’s true models of care are changing, ministers must face up to their responsibilities and ensure that medical staff have the resources they need to get on with the job.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Over the past decade we’ve been adapting our clinical practices to meet the changing needs of the population across Scotland to get more people treated in the right place, at the right time.

“Since 2011-12 we have seen a significant 10% reduction in length of stay in hospital for elective admissions, which is good for patients.

“The drop in return outpatient appointments is an early signal that our aim to deliver care closer to home and use new technologies to avoid the need to go to hospital is having an impact.

“The number of available beds will vary throughout the year to reflect demand, however we have introduced measures to ensure there is an increased focus on hospital capacity and patient flow.

“For example our £22.4 million winter funding, the highest amount in any one year, supported NHS boards through their busiest winter in a decade to build resilience across services. There are also more than 700 intermediate care beds across Scotland, which are not included in these statistics.”

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