South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused NHS Ayrshire and Arran of presiding over a “culture of secrecy” after plans to axe 89 beds at Crosshouse hospital were “slipped out” in a press release late on Friday (11 May) afternoon.

Colin Smyth has written to NHS Ayrshire and Arran Chief Executive John Burns and Scottish Government Health Secretary Shona Robison expressing concern at the announcement¬†seeking an explanation for the cuts and criticising the complete lack of detail on the so-called “new models of care” the local NHS claim will mean they no longer need the beds.

The local MSP believes that the main driver behind the plans is the need to rein in spending after it was recently revealed that the board faces a £23m deficit.

Colin Smyth said, “It’s no secret that NHS Ayrshire and Arran face a huge financial headache and part of the projected £23m deficit is these additional beds because of the problem of delayed discharge. However, given that SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison promised to abolish delayed discharge by the end of 2015 and has utterly failed to do so, shows these beds will be needed for some time to come. There are over 30,000 bed days occupied in NHS Ayrshire and Arran every year at a cost of £7m due to delayed discharge. Cuts to local council budgets by the Scottish Government mean there just aren’t the care packages in place to allow people to leave hospital on time and until those cuts are reversed, delayed discharge will remain a huge challenge”

“The local NHS have not set out any detailed plans showing how they plan to end the problem and what these so called new models of care are. Local people will be concerned that these beds will be reduced to close the massive funding gap but the care needed still won’t be there in the community. It’s also clear that some of these cuts in beds appear to be driven by other factors such as staff shortages in orthopaedics”.¬†¬†

“The fact this news was slipped out in a press release late on a Friday with no detail showing how NHS Ayrshire and Arran plan to create this so-called additional capacity in the community reveals a culture of secrecy and it doesn’t give me confidence that they can reduce these beds without impacting on patient care.”

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