REHABILITATION facilities are being used for storage space and meeting rooms while NHS patients face lengthy waits for treatment, campaigners have warned.

Research by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists Scotland found that hospital gymnasiums used help build up patients' strength and mobility following strokes and heart attacks had been scrapped in some areas since the beginning of the pandemic.

In NHS Ayrshire and Arran, the cardiac gymnasium was now being used as storage space with rehabilitation spaces "converted to meeting rooms", according to CSP Scotland.

In NHS Fife, the trade union for physiotherapists said gymnasium space is being "used for storage space with no plans to return it, while physiotherapists attempt to offer rehabilitation in inadequate shared spaces with under staffed provision".

READ MORE: Anger at private patients treated on NHS sites amid waiting list delays 

In NHS Grampian, cardiac rehabilitation services were paused in March and patients have been told the health board is "unable to return to delivery of our service as it was before the Covid-19 surge".

In NHS Forth Valley, the musculoskeletal (MSK) outpatient therapy department and women's and children's physiotherapy at Forth Valley Royal Hospital is to be converted into an Urgent Care Centre by October 31.

The preferred new site for MSK Outpatients "will displace an area used for Neuro Outpatient Rehab and does not have space for a gym", said CSP Scotland.

The organisation warned that the changes would be counter-productive as a rise in people requiring Covid-19 rehabilitation or suffering 'Long Covid' symptoms increases demand for physiotherapy.

In a recent survey, 47 per cent of CSP members in Scotland reported that a loss of rehabilitation space is why services have been unable to resume. They complained that changes had been made without risk assessments or consultation.

READ MORE: Flu vaccine rollout 'must be rethought' amid fears oldest are being left to last in some areas 

Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP Scotland public affairs manager, said: “The reports we are receiving from across Scotland are deeply concerning.

"It seems that not only are physiotherapy and rehabilitation services being slow to restart, they are being moved without relocation plans, downgraded or undervalued.

"We recognise the challenges in health settings and the need to re-organise, but it is essential that rehabilitation services are prioritised.”

The Scottish Government said its rehabilitation framework would assist health boards to plan recovery and rehabilitation services following the pandemic.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “It aims to build on good practice and capacity within the healthcare system and to explore innovative models, adopting a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach, to help ensure timely and flexible delivery of care and support to those who need it."