Borders hospital at capacity with A&E department 'exceptionally busy'

Patients have been urged to only attend the hospital's emergency department if symptoms are life threatening.

Borders General Hospital in Melrose at capacity with A&E department ‘exceptionally busy’ Google Maps

Health chiefs have issued a warning after Borders General Hospital reached capacity on Tuesday as a result of a rise in Covid and flu cases.

The beds of the hospital, situated in Melrose, are fully occupied and the emergency department is described as “exceptionally busy”.

Patients have been warned to expect longer waiting times as a result of the number of people attending the service.

NHS Borders said the pressures are a result of increased cases of flu and coronavirus as well as a rise in falls at this time of year.

It comes as figures released on Tuesday reveal waiting times in A&E departments across the country have reached a new low with just 61.9% of patients being seen and admitted or discharged within four hours in the week up to November 27.

The figures, released by Public Health Scotland, also revealed that October was the worst monthly performance on record with 67.6% of patients seen within the target time.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has admitted that “A&E performance is not where it needs to be”.

Patients considering attending the emergency department at Borders General Hospital have been urged to call NHS 24 or 111 to ensure they are directed to the best area for their symptoms.

A health board spokesperson said: “Due to significant pressures the Borders General Hospital is at capacity. Our beds are fully occupied and our emergency department is exceptionally busy, with a number of people requiring admission.

“These pressures are associated with the time of year including flu, Covid-19 and falls associated with a drop in temperature.

“There are things that you can do to help; before you attend the emergency department please call NHS 24 on 111 first and they will signpost you to the right place to get the advice or care that you need. You may need to wait a while for your call to be answered or for a member of the team to call you back, but this can be done in the comfort of your own home.

“If you do need to be seen you may be given an appointment time to minimise the time you need to spend in the emergency department. This also reduces pressure on our team.

“If you think that your condition is immediately life threatening you should call 999.”

Responding to the A&E figures on Tuesday, Yousaf said: “A number of factors are driving up A&E waits including the level of delayed discharge which is why we are working with health boards to ensure people leave hospital without delay, freeing up vital beds for those who need them most.

“We will continue to see fluctuations in figures over winter, despite this, I am clear that A&E performance is not where it needs to be.”