PLANS are being put in place to tackle "boarding" in the health service in a bid to reduce problems associated with prolonged and disrupted stays in hospital.

The practice, which involves patients being moved between beds unnecessarily, has been shown to have a negative impact on patients' recovery times.

Studies show it tends to increase lengths of stay in hospital and re-admission rates, and also increases the risk of patients developing medical complications including healthcare- acquired infections and blood clots.

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Over the coming year the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and NHS Scotland will work together to address strategies to reduce boarding in Scottish hospitals, including reviewing the number and type of beds for acute care, ensuring there are enough medical consultants and nurses and having daily reviews of patients by consultants.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "Moving patients from one ward to another when they don't need to be moved can delay their treatment and even cause medical problems – that's not good for patients and it puts a greater burden on our NHS.

"We need to ensure NHS boards have world-class planning for the number and type of beds, nurses and consultants that are needed, so the need to move patients unnecessarily is reduced."

Boarding is used as a short-term solution to manage patient flow during times of acute pressure on the NHS, such as during temporary ward closures.