Families in North and South Lanarkshire who have relatives in hospital are being urged to bring them home if they are no longer receiving treatment.
NHS Lanarkshire issued the appeal on Wednesday because its hospitals are “exceptionally busy” dealing with patients infected with coronavirus.
The health board said it recognised that not all families would be in a position to bring relatives home.
An NHS Lanarkshire spokesperson said: “We are asking families with relatives in hospital who have been assessed as ready to be discharged and therefore no longer need hospital acute care, to consider taking them home where appropriate for a temporary period while they are awaiting their home care package to be put in place.
“This will help bridge the gap while the patient awaits their care package.
“We recognise that not all families will be in a position to do this but any patient who can safely go home will help ease the severe pressures currently being faced across our hospitals.”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said he had spoken to officials at several health boards on Tuesday including NHS Lanarkshire.
He tweeted: “Next few weeks will be amongst most difficult our NHS has ever faced. You can help by ensuring you get the right care, at the right place, at right time.”
Last October, NHS Lanarkshire moved to the highest risk level (black) due to “critical occupancy levels”.
It said it was facing “relentless” pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to sickness, stress and self-isolation.
University Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie and University Hospital Wishaw were all at maximum capacity.
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour MSP for Central Scotland, said: “NHS Lanarkshire declared ‘Code Black’ 22 October. Social care collapsing all around us. Pressure on unpaid carers and families is huge.
“Community transmission likely to increase when schools open. We need a much clearer plan from @scottishgov. It’s hard to have confidence right now.”
The NHS Lanarkshire appeal comes as Scotland registered its second-highest number of new coronavirus infections, although the latest figure is almost 3000 behind the previous day’s record number of cases.
Covid-19 statistics released on Tuesday show there were 17,259 new infections reported in Scotland, with a test positivity rate of 35.3%.
It is significantly below the 20,217 cases recorded on Monday, although Public Health Scotland has warned there are currently delays reporting test results.
Patients in hospital with coronavirus have risen by 116 to a record high of 1,147, including 42 patients in intensive care, an increase of three.
Figures released on Monday showed one patient in Scotland with a confirmed case of the Omicron variant has required intensive care since the strain emerged in the country.
Official statistics also indicated that less than 100 people have been hospitalised due to Omicron in Scotland.
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