A PUBLIC plea has been issued with the emergency department at Borders General Hospital “crowded with patients”.

The unit was described as “extremely busy” with Borderers told to only attend if it is a life-threatening emergency.

Dr Colm McCarthy, consultant in emergency medicine at NHS Borders, urged people to collect family members as soon as possible to help ease pressure on the health board.

“The department is currently under a lot of strain and is what we would describe as crowded with patients,” he said in a video posted to social media. “One of the issues with this situation is we have a delay for patients who need to be admitted to the inpatient beds getting from the emergency department into the hospital.

“This in turn knocks back our abilities to see new patients coming in the door.

“One of the thing you can do as a member of the community who may have family members in hospital awaiting discharge, if you are able to facilitate them home rather than us of waiting for ambulance transport, that can have a huge impact on our ability to move patients onto the ward and allow us to see our new attenders sooner than we otherwise would be able to.”

An NHS Borders spokesperson said that a number of people were requiring admission at the emergency department.

They added: “If you do need to attend, you may have to wait longer to be seen. If you have a minor injury or urgent health problem which isn't life-threatening, call NHS 24 on 111.

“Calling 111 first will help us to reduce pressure on our staff and services and help you to get the right care in the right place - often closer to home and without the need to visit the Emergency Department.

“If your family member is fit to be discharged from hospital, please help us to get them home quickly when they are well enough by being ready and available to collect them or support their discharge to their next place of care.”