POLICE are investigating after a patient hanged himself at a hospital’s accident and emergency department.

The death at Ayr Hospital is being probed by the health authority and police, who will submit a report to prosecutors.

The incident is at least the third suicide at an NHS Ayrshire and Arran hospital in recent years.

In 2010, two patients took their lives at Crosshouse Hospital, near Kilmarnock, on the same day.

Last November, NHS Ayrshire and Arran was fined £67,000 at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court for a catalogue of failings over the death of unemployed joiner Gary Niven, 42, of Irvine.

Niven had been left unattended at accident and emergency despite having a known mental health condition. He had called an ambulance after trying to kill himself in his garage in August 2010.

The court heard the treatment room he had been left had been risk-assessed only for the safety of staff.

Prosecutor Catriona Dow said that the incident was foreseeable and a "significant failure for patients with mental health concerns".

The health board was previously fined £50,000 for neglecting former teacher Nicola Black, 33, who was also left alone in a mental health ward and hanged herself within hours of Niven.

After being airlifted to Crosshouse following a drugs overdose, healthcare assistants tasked with keeping her under observation were only told the patient was at risk of absconding, even though she had been assessed at “significant risk” of taking her own life.

She was put in the only room on a ward where window fittings previously flagged up as a ligature risk had inexplicably not been removed. Her death was described as “entirely avoidable”.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to communicate to staff that Black was at risk of taking her life, and inadequate record keeping.

Sheriff Derek Livingston described the two deaths as a “horrendous coincidence”.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “NHS Ayrshire and Arran is aware of an incident that took place at University Hospital Ayr on August 8.

“In line with our policies and procedures we are carrying out the relevant investigations alongside Police Scotland.

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment further.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland added: “Police can confirm the body of a 42-year-old man was found at Ayr Hospital on August 8.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”