PLANS to slash the number of NHS laundries in a bid to cut costs have been branded "unacceptable".

It emerged that NHS bosses are set to decide next month whether to shut four of Scotland's eight hospital laundry services.

The move would save an estimated £2.7 million a year, but Scottish Labour warned that it would be a mistake when hospitals were already running short on clean bedding and sheets.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde alone 31 reported incidences of linen shortages in the last three years.

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The eight laundries are based at: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, Borders General Hospital, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, St John's Hospital in Livingston, Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, the West of Scotland Laundry in Wishaw, and Hillington Laundry in Glasgow.

In the past two years, 27 jobs have been cut across the NHS laundry service - equivalent to five per cent of the workforce.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: "Further cuts to NHS laundry services will be unacceptable.

"The Health Secretary should come clean over this move and say how many staff are facing redundancies and what she will do to respond to the risk of industrial action.

"Across Scotland we’ve seen hospitals running out of clean bed linen and towels too often, as staffing levels go down and health boards struggle to balance the books.

“After 12 years in charge, the SNP’s mismanagement of the health service is having serious consequences for patients and NHS staff and health boards are warning they’ll struggle to cope this winter with rising demand.

“Scottish Labour will challenge these proposals and seek a commitment that patient safety and NHS jobs are not at risk.”

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We understand that NHS National Services Scotland's Laundry Programme Board is seeking to develop a new action plan to ensure their services are as safe, efficient and sustainable as possible.

"No proposals relating to this have come to Scottish Government ministers to consider.

"We are clear in our expectation that any proposals that come forward must be developed in partnership with staffside representatives."