A top doctor at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is urging people to stay away from A&E unless their “condition is life-threatening”.
The call comes as the Covid pandemic continues to put NHS boards across the country under massive pressure.
Earlier this week, NHS Lanarkshire moved to its highest risk level – dubbed ‘code black’ – which has seen the health board postpone scheduled hospital treatments, including some cancer procedures.
NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Borders and NHS Grampian recently requested help from the armed forces. Soldiers are also providing support to the Scottish Ambulance Service.
On Saturday, NHSGGC said that over a seven-day period, 32% of the people who attended Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s emergency department did so with “minor injuries and issues” including sprained ankles, lower back pain, cut fingers and bruising.
Scott Davidson, deputy medical director for NHSGGC, said: “We want to thank all of our staff for their continuing commitment to our patients, their families and their colleagues during this unprecedented time.
“Unfortunately, our emergency departments are still seeing people who do not need to be there, with minor ailments such as dental pain, urinary tract infections, sore throats of less than one day, period pain, cuts and scrapes.
“Attending A&E with these minor conditions not only adds to the pressure facing our staff but also impacts on waiting times.
“We would urge everyone that, unless their condition is life-threatening, they should not attend an emergency department.”
Those in any doubt over who they should contact are being urged to call NHS 24 on 111.
Dr Davidson added: “If necessary you will be given an onward referral to our Flow Navigation Centre Team, who will call you back and undertake a virtual consultation.
“This can be undertaken in your own home and may mean the condition can be treated without you leaving home.
“Should you need to attend an emergency department, the team will instruct you to do so.
“Our partner GP surgeries across the board area are open, and the GP out-of-hours service for urgent problems, over the weekend, can also be accessed by calling 111.
“Pharmacies also have expert knowledge and can advise on minor ailments, or give simple healthcare advice.
“I would like to thank members of the public who have continued to use 111 to access the correct care for their support and understanding during what continues to be a challenging time for everyone.”