SCOTLAND'S hospitals are losing more beds each year than the vast majority of developing countries in the western world.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development observed the changing rate of available beds in 34 different countries.

When compared to the Scottish Government's own statistics, it shows health care is declining faster in Scotland than most other nations.

More than 6000 staffed hospital beds have been withdrawn from Scottish hospitals over the last ten years — a decrease of around 21 per cent.

Only Finland and Ireland have recorded bigger decreases.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scottish Patients' Association, has argued that the recent "savage cutbacks" were threatening the viability of health care in Scotland.

"This is outrageous," she said. "People have died as they couldn't get into hospital because they were kept waiting in A&E.

"The distress it causes patients and families is huge but the situation seems to get worse year on year.

"I have never known it as bad as this and our national treasure, the NHS, is becoming a nightmare for patients. It used to be the pride of the world but savage cutbacks threaten its future."

The Scottish Government, however, have argued a more focused approach to healthcare has ruled out the need for additional beds.

A spokesperson said: "Care patterns have changed over the years, with more care delivered in the ­community, short hospital stays and more same-day surgery without the need for an overnight stay."