NHS Tayside has been slammed for having low levels of staffed beds at Perth Royal Infirmary.
Liz Smith, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has criticised the health body after figures were released which state there were 327 beds at the Perth hospital in 2003, falling to 235 in 2016.
The Conservative politician claims the statistics show the ability to treat patients at PRI is “being hampered” by having to travel to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for medical attention.
She highlights statistics from 2007 to 2016, which reveal that PRI witnessed a drop in staffed bed capacity of 24% during this time, compared with the number of beds increasing from 768 to 800 at Ninewells.
The figures, produced by Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland, provide details of average available staffed beds for non-intensive care from 2003 to 2016.
They show that there has been a reduction of 8,000 beds since 2003 across Scotland.
Ms Smith claims there is “anecdotal” evidence about a shift in capacity away from PRI and the ISD figures back this theory.
She said: “This is a significant decrease in the number of staffed beds at PRI and one that is hugely concerning for patients in the area who use the hospital.
“PRI is a hugely important facility for the local community and this notable decrease in beds is concerning.
“NHS Tayside is a large and diverse geographic region and the ability to have two hospitals in PRI and Ninewells is beneficial. However, with beds being lost every year at PRI, its ability to treat patients is being hampered with patients potentially being shifted to Ninewells which is less convenient for rural residents.
“I understand that the way people are being treated is changing, with more receiving the care they need out with hospital environment, but this can’t be used as an excuse to slash beds at PRI.
“It’s important that there is a more equitable balance in staffed beds and I would urge those in charge to resist removing more beds from Perth.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said, “PRI is firmly established as a vital part of acute services in Tayside. Over the last ten years, NHS Tayside has made significant investment to the PRI site to provide essential services for people in the Perth & Kinross area.
“Additions to the site include the Community Maternity Unit, the renal dialysis unit, the haematology and oncology units, the nuclear medicine department and the endoscopy unit.
“Over the last few years, clinicians have been developing clinical services strategies based on the best clinical evidence to deliver high-quality, safe and effective patient care.
“The strategies point to a significant shift to services away from hospital to provision in the community and people’s own homes, meaning that fewer inpatient beds are required.
“Improvements to the way inpatients are managed and the introduction of new technology has led to shorter stays for patients, which has also affected the number of beds required.
“The public should be reassured that patients clinically assessed as requiring inpatient treatment will continue to be admitted to the most appropriate care setting.”