A health board has released an urgent call for “all available staff” who are currently not working to come in due to an unprecedented level of patients.
NHS Grampian released a statement on social media on Friday asking any staff who may be on annual leave and would be available to work to do so.
The health service said this was due to a number of severely ill patients arriving at the hospitals in the area.
NHS Grampian wrote: “We are currently facing an extreme level of pressure across our health care system, due to the number of acutely ill patients arriving at hospital and difficulties in discharging patients to community settings.
“We are asking all staff who are not working – and may be on annual leave – but would be available to work, to contact Site and Capacity as soon as possible.
“We appreciate this is a big ask, especially this time of year, and greatly appreciate any additional support you can give.”
It is the second appeal to be put out by an NHS health board on Friday, with NHS Lothian also asking for help from relatives and carers on Twitter.
They wrote: “Following warnings that hospitals and GP services are being stretched beyond capacity, we’re asking relatives and carers for help.
“Delays in discharging patients who no longer need clinical care is intensifying pressures across healthcare.”
It comes after health officials released figures that revealed flu cases in Scotland are at their highest level for five years.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) raised the incidence of influenza from “high” to “extraordinary” activity level.
Dr Iain Kennedy, chairman of BMA Scotland, said the situation was “completely desperate,” adding it should “close any debate that the NHS is broken”.
“Even if this was due to exceptional circumstances it would be hugely worrying,” he told STV News.
“But we have heard first hand from doctors across Scotland just how short staffed and stretched services are on a daily basis.
“Those working in our health service are exhausted, burnt out and broken, yet I am sure there are many who will answer the call and yet again show dedication and commitment well beyond what might reasonably be expected.
“But I fear the consequences for our workforce who simply can’t go on bailing out an NHS that isn’t working now and hasn’t for some time.”
Dr Kennedy added: “We must focus on healthcare worker wellbeing in the short term and properly invest in and support those working across hospitals and GP surgeries at this time of huge pressure on services.
“And in order to build an NHS in Scotland that can survive in the longer term, we simply can’t put off the need for a serious, depoliticised national conversation on the future of Scotland’s health service and what we ask it to deliver”
Scottish Conservative shadow public health minister and north-east MSP Tess White said: “This desperate plea from NHS Grampian exposes how deep the crisis is within our A&E departments.
“The sheer scale of this shocking situation has spiralled so much out of control that exhausted staff are now being asked to come in on their days off when they should be enjoying time with their families.
“Staff have been let down at every turn by Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plan and his failure to get a grip of the catastrophic predicament which NHS Grampian has been left in.
“The system is completely broken as we head into the new year and dedicated staff and worried patients are having to pay the heavy price for the SNP’s mismanagement of our hospitals.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s New Year resolution should be to sack Humza Yousaf immediately as Health Secretary.”