A shortage of beds at Ninewells Hospital is leaving the intensive care unit (ICU) unable to meet demand from its sickest patients, an NHS report has warned.
Dundee consultants are more likely to move patients out of its ICU early than at any other Scottish hospital.
A senior doctor blamed the large number of premature discharges in Tayside and across the country on bed shortages, in a Scottish Intensive Care Society audit of last year for NHS Scotland.
The Tayside ICU had the highest early discharge rate of patients in the country at 7%, three times higher than the national average. Most – 28 in total – were sent to other wards.
The report said: “This figure suggests the number of ICU beds at Ninewells Hospital is inadequate.
“At times of peak occupancy, ICU bed demand appears to exceed the supply and patients were discharged early to a lower level of care.”
Dr Stephen Cole, chairman of the audit group, said while the report shows the quality of critical care in Scotland is of a high standard, there is “increasing evidence that some areas of the country really do lack sufficient numbers of intensive care beds”.
Professor Peter Stonebridge, NHS Tayside’s medical director for the operational unit, said they are looking to increase ICU capacity at Ninewells. He said: “Any decision to transfer a patient from ICU would only be made following a full clinical assessment.”