PLANS to remove dozens of beds from University Hospital Ayr have been branded “unacceptable” by an Ayrshire MSP.

A source from the hospital said that staff were made aware of the potential plans to close ward 10 in the hospital last week.

Despite the ongoing pressures on the care system, NHS Ayrshire & Arran have said that the beds being removed are additional bed spaces which were introduced to the facility to deal with the extra pressure of the Covid pandemic.

No official number has been confirmed, but up to 76 beds could be lost as a result.

It’s understood that staff have been told no jobs will go as a result of the reduction in bed numbers, with Friday’s meeting held in part to tell staff on the affected ward about the opportunities available for redeployment elsewhere.

Conservative MSP Sharon Dowey, who represents the area as part of her South Scotland regional remit, branded the move “ a disgrace”.

Cumnock Chronicle: MSP Sharon Dowey said the decision was a disgrace.MSP Sharon Dowey said the decision was a disgrace. (Image: NQ Archive)

It comes just a few months after Ms Dowey went public on claims from a whistleblower that both the ICU and the accident and emergency department at Ayr Hospital could be closed, along with accompanying acute surgical services

Reacting to the latest news, Ms Dowey said: “Reducing the number of hospital beds for patients is a disgrace, especially when our NHS is already in crisis.

“Humza Yousaf has been caught breaking his word to the people of Ayrshire.

“He personally promised me that local health services would not be reduced but it looks like he is too busy with his leadership bid to support our NHS.

“Cutting the number of beds and closing a ward is unacceptable.

“The SNP Government must intervene and reverse this decision. People across Ayrshire deserve to know there will be a hospital bed available if they need it.”

Joanne Edwards , the health board’s director of acute services, said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran has an ongoing approach to reducing beds that were opened to provide additional capacity during the pandemic.

“These additional beds were opened across our hospital system and so the reduction in beds will be safely planned across the system and not just at University Hospital Ayr.

“As we progress with the reduction, staff currently working in those areas will be offered roles in other wards. We have high vacancies across the system and so there will be no detriment to staff.

“These bed closures are not linked to the interim decision to move level 3 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to University Hospital Crosshouse.”

The Scottish Government said it had nothing to add to the health board’s statement.