The number of available beds in Scotland's hospitals has fallen for the fourth year in a row, official figures indicate.

There has been a 2% drop in available hospital beds, down from 324 from 2017-18 to 13,105 in a year.

With patient numbers rising by more than 6,000 last year, the Scottish Government is facing claims of "negligence" and calls for them to address the issue of hospital capacity.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: "Only the SNP could think it acceptable to cut bed numbers at a time when hospital admissions are increasing.

"The nationalists have been warned for years about Scotland's expanding and ageing population, and the impact that would have on our NHS.

"Yet they've not properly addressed staffing levels, nursing and consultancy vacancies are at a record level, and now we learn bed numbers are dropping too.

"It's no wonder people are getting increasingly fed up with the level of care they are receiving under this SNP government."

He added: "This negligence not only impacts the health of patients, but it places an intolerable strain on staff who are already going beyond the call of duty to keep the health service going.

"SNP ministers need to provide the evidence and future planning for beds, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing demand for dementia beds at the same time as these are being cut."

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Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "The number of beds in our hospitals continues to slide. We need assurances that the NHS is equipped to meet demand.

"We know that every day there are more than 1,000 people stuck in hospital unnecessarily - people who have been declared ready to leave but lack the community care they need.

"Persistent delays to discharge have a domino effect on all hospital departments left to pick up the pieces."

Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said delayed discharges was "certainly an area where the NHS in Scotland can improve".

Prof Bell added: "We note a small decrease of staffed, acute hospital beds in the past year of 2% and an overall reduction of 6% compared with 2013-14.

"This is part of an ongoing trend where acute beds are being reduced for a range of reasons.

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"This includes medical advances, leading to shorter hospital stays for patients, and a shift to treatment and care in same-day outpatient settings or in the community.

"Last year there were over 1.2 million admissions into Scottish hospitals and demand on acute services has not reduced in the past year, with a small rise in total procedures in acute care settings.

"Therefore, NHS boards must remain cautious about the impact that fewer acute inpatient beds could have on patients and adverse effects must be avoided."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "As has already been made clear, the Health Secretary will be giving a statement to Parliament on this on Wednesday this week, and publishing the two reports on the reviews she ordered."