Concern after it emerges less than half of Scottish hospitals have been inspected in last five years
Less than half of Scotland's hospitals have undergone inspection in the past five years, figures show.
According to data from Healthcare Improvement Scotland, 36 hospitals have never been inspected by the regulatory body.
Additionally, 29 hospitals have not undergone inspection in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
Rural areas in Scotland have borne the brunt of this lack of oversight, with the bulk of the uninspected hospitals situated in remote parts of the country.
One-third of the hospitals that have never been inspected are located in the Highlands and only Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has been inspected within the last five years.
Scottish Conservative health spokesperson Sandesh Gulhane described the situation as part of "a depressing trend with this SNP-Green government".
He said: "The fact that over half of hospitals across Scotland haven’t been inspected in five years is gravely concerning. Inspections play a vital role in reassuring patients and staff that their hospital is safe and operating as it should be."
Gulhane expressed particular concern about the disproportionate impact on rural areas.
He said: "Those living in rural areas already face too many barriers to accessing healthcare. They should be able to take comfort in knowing that, when they do access it, they are receiving the best care at their local hospital. That goes for all patients across Scotland."
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) carries out its inspectorate function of health boards independently from government.
“HIS make unannounced inspections and it is for the organisation to decide which facilities to visit and how frequently. There are 44 acute hospital sites in Scotland which HIS prioritises with an aim of inspecting each of them every three years.
“Independent inspections are key to identifying issues and making sure these are addressed and help to support Health Boards to continuously improve the services they deliver.”