INTENSIVE care beds at University Hospital Ayr are to be moved away from the site in March due to a staffing crisis, health bosses have confirmed.

It follows almost a year of concern about services at the Ayr site being reduced.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran has also insisted - again - that there are no plans to cut the hours of the A&E unit at University Hospital Ayr.

A source contacted Ayrshire Weekly Press this week stating that the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Ayr facility would be closing in March, and claiming that a decision had been made that the hospital's emergency department would be shutting between 8pm and 8am.

The health board confirmed that the three ICU beds in Ayr will be moving to Crosshouse Hospital in March as an "interim measure" because of "significant workforce gaps" - but insisted that Ayr's A&E service will be remaining open 24 hours a day.

In September, NHS Ayrshire and Arran's chief executive Claire Burden "categorically confirm[ed] there are no plans" to reduce essential services at the hospital.

Ayr Advertiser: NHS Ayrshire & Arran Chief Executive Claire BurdenNHS Ayrshire & Arran Chief Executive Claire Burden (Image: NQ Archive)

NHS Ayrshire & Arran say that ICU beds will be moved to Crosshouse Hospital on an "interim basis", to help deal with staffing issues.

Jacqui Donald, site director at University Hospital Ayr said: "It has become increasingly difficult to sustain the identical critical care service models on both the University Hospital Ayr site and the University Hospital Crosshouse site due to significant difficulties in recruiting senior medical staff.

"The three level 3 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in University Hospital Ayr will transfer to Crosshouse on an interim basis.

"This interim change is due to take place in March 2024, and is designed to address significant workforce gaps, which would otherwise place our critical care services at risk of becoming impossible to sustain.

"Operational and clinical teams have identified the capacity for this move to take place for both hospital sites.

"There will continue to be a critical care provision at the University Hospital Ayr site via the High Dependency Unit (Level 2 Care)."

Ayr Advertiser: Services will be moved to Crosshouse Hospital.Services will be moved to Crosshouse Hospital. (Image: NQ Archive)

In September, at a meeting also attended by social care minister Maree Todd and NHS Scotland chief executive Caroline Lamb, Ms Burden said the board was being "constantly challenged with concerns that Ayr Hospital is being wound down".

She insisted that the health board needs "all of our estate" to meet the demand for services.

Responding to the latest concerns, Ms Donald added: "Our emergency department at the University Hospital Ayr will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the citizens of Ayrshire.

"University Hospital Ayr and its emergency department is, and will remain, integral to how we deliver healthcare to the people of Ayrshire.

"NHS Ayrshire and Arran would like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the incredible pressure workforce shortages has put on some of our teams and services provided from the University Hospital Ayr.

"In the national context of a very competitive recruitment market, we continue to make all efforts possible to recruit to vacant posts."

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “Patient safety is of paramount concern and the Health Board has been clear that the interim ICU plans are to ensure adequate consultant medical cover; thereby maintaining the safety and sustainability of local critical care services."