NHS Scotland has cut the number of hospital beds by more than 600 in the past year, prompting the Scottish Conservatives to urge ministers to “get on top of the situation”.
Official figures show a 622 reduction in beds between 2015/16 and 2016/17, a 2.8 per cent drop to 21,340.
Statistics for the past five years show the number of beds has fallen each year from 23,012 in 2012/13, a 7.3 per cent reduction in total.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “There is a general shift towards community care, which will explain some of the reductions we’ve seen over the past years.
“But at the same time, we have an expanding and an ageing population, and we’re going to need hospital beds to support and care for more patients who have increasingly complex needs.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “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.
“This year, the total investment for health and social care services to deal with winter pressures and enhance resilience across the services will now be a record high of £22.4 million, making sure patients are seen quickly, efficiently and without delay.”