Bosses at Scotland’s largest health board have rejected claims they have imposed “swingeing” cuts in the number of beds for children.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde insisted that Labour’s claim of a 40% cut in paediatric beds over the last decade was “clearly wrong”.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie accused the board of inflicting a “hammer blow to paediatric care” at the Royal Hospital for Children, saying the average number of available, staffed, paediatric beds fell from 200 in 2011-12 to 120 in 2020-2021.
But a spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The actual figures for average staffed available beds as reported by Public Health Scotland is 237 (2019-20) and 230 (2020-21).”
Ms Baillie had stated: “With children from all over the country coming to Glasgow for specialist treatment, it should be a centre of excellence – but instead beds are being stripped away.
“We cannot cut corners when it comes to kids’ health.
“This is the SNP’s flagship hospital, but instead of investing in child health the board is cutting beds.
“The SNP and the health board leadership must halt these swingeing cuts and restore bed numbers to where they need to be.”
However the spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the figures issued by Labour were “inaccurate” and “misinterprets a sub-set of data”.
He stated: “Any claim that paediatric beds within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have been subject to ‘dangerous’ cuts is categorically untrue, and to report these figures as fact would be inaccurate and misleading.”
The spokesman continued: “The Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) is a 244-bed hospital, so to suggest that the total number of paediatric beds within NHSGGC is less than half of that figure is clearly wrong.”
He insisted: “There was robust bed modelling as part of the planning for Royal Hospital for Children, and since it opened in 2015 there has been no reduction in inpatient beds with the exception of temporary transfer of Ward 2a/2b to Ward6a/4b. Ward 2a/2b are scheduled to reopen early in 2022.
“The Royal Hospital for Children is one of the leading paediatric care centres in the UK, and the largest in Scotland, providing family-centred care to newborns, infants, children and young people both in hospital and in the community.
“The site provides a wide range of highly complex medical, surgical, cardiac and mental health services to children across Scotland.
“More than 304,000 patients were treated in the Royal Hospital for Children between 2019 and 2021 – 21.5% of Scotland’s paediatric care cases in the year ending March 2021.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) is the largest paediatric care centre in Scotland, providing family-centred care to newborns, infants, children and young people, both in hospital and in the community.
“The transfer of services from Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital allowed the RHC to significantly expand the number of general paediatricians on the site, with more than 304,000 patients benefiting from a wide range of highly complex medical, surgical, cardiac and mental health services there in the last two years.
“Clinical teams working across RHC continue to facilitate care close to home, movement from inpatient to day care pathways and expanded delivery of care from home, which has led to a clinically appropriate reduction in inpatient bed usage.
“The redesign of services means children receive modern, high-quality care closer to their families.”