MANCHESTER, N.H. — Planned layoffs at a major New Hampshire health care provider are now political fodder in the U.S. Senate battle between Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched a television ad slamming Hassan for the state’s handling of a $36.5 million contract with Dartmouth-Hitchcock to run the state’s psychiatric hospital.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced plans for several hundred layoffs just days after the Executive Council approved the three-year contract. Councilors and Hassan’s administration said they were unaware of the planned layoffs. Dartmouth-Hitchcock has provided limited details on who will be subject to layoffs but said the psychiatric hospital will not be affected.

Even before the layoffs, a handful of employees left the state hospital due to a contract dispute with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. One of those employees, nurse practitioner Victoria Cronin, is featured in the new NRSC ad.

“For months we’ve tried to warn (Hassan) that they didn’t have adequate staffing to take care of those patients,” Cronin says. She then says Hassan is “corrupt” if she knew about the layoffs or “inept” if she didn’t.

Hassan’s campaign noted the five-member executive council unanimously approved the contract with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. And it pointed to a Concord Monitor story quoting Peter Evers, chief executive at the nonprofit Riverbend Community Mental Health advocacy group, saying he takes Dartmouth-Hitchcock “at their word” that they have adequate staff at the state hospital.

Hassan campaign spokesman said the National Republican Senatorial Committee is a discredited organization.