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More cuts to hospital bed numbers exposed

The number of hospital beds across Scotland fell again last year, signalling further NHS cuts by the SNP.

New figures released today revealed there were 20,911 beds in hospitals across Scotland in 2017/18.

That’s a 7.2 decrease in the space of five years, and a reduction of 429 in just 12 months.

The choice to embark on the cuts comes despite increasing cases of bed blocking and warnings of another difficult winter for staff and patients.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said while there was a general move from hospital to community care, the fact Scotland had an increasing and ageing population meant the NHS could not afford to lose more beds.

He added that many new hospitals were built out-of-town specifically to accommodate more space, yet still the reductions were taking place.

The figures were included as part of an ISD Scotland analysis into health service costs.

The SNP government is set to benefit from more than half a billion pounds in Barnett Consequentials following UK Government increases in health spending, which will give ministers here more cash to use on the NHS should they choose to.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“The SNP will no doubt argue that the way people are being cared for is changing, and that involves moving people out of hospital and back into the community.

“And while that may be partly true, it doesn’t account for an increasing and ageing population which is going to place more pressure on the NHS.

“That’s why the number of beds should be going up – not reducing.

“At no point has the SNP government provided the scoping evidence on the future bed demands NHS Scotland will need.

“However, SNP ministers have been quick to cut NHS beds out of hospitals across the country.

“With delayed discharge increasing and waiting times lengthening, it’s clear that a lack of beds is contributing to this.

“Perhaps if the SNP shifted its focus away from its constitutional obsession, it could make a positive impact on this front.”




Notes to editors:


The full report can be accessed here:


Break-out data tables reveal the following number of beds in Scotland’s NHS over the last five years:


2013/14 – 22,553

2014/15 – 22,400

2015/16 – 21,962

2016/17 – 21,340

2017/18 – 20,911


Delayed discharge in Scotland recently hit its worst level in two years:

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