NHS Borders has issued a fresh appeal to the public amid "extreme pressures" across the health and social care system.

On Wednesday (January 3) Dr Colm McCarthy, consultant in emergency medicine, said the emergency department at Borders General Hospital (BGH) was "crowded with patients".

He urged people to pick up family members awaiting discharge to help ease the strain on the health board.

Now NHS Borders has issued a new statement advising the public that beds at the BGH are full and the emergency department is "exceptionally busy".

Lynne Huckerby, interim director of acute services at the region's health board, said: “We are currently facing extreme pressures across the health and social care system, particularly at Borders General Hospital. This is a challenging situation, and we are very grateful to our staff who are working tirelessly to ensure that we can continue to provide care and treatment to those who need us most.

“However, we also need your help to do this. Please make sure you are attending the right place to get the care that you need, and if you have loved ones who are ready to be discharged, please collect them as soon as you possibly can to help us maintain a steady flow of patients through the hospital.”

An NHS Borders spokesperson added: "If you require care or treatment, you can save time by seeking the right care in the right place. Often your first port of call should be the NHS Inform website. There are lots of self-help guides available for a wide range of ailments and illnesses.

"Community pharmacists can provide expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and ailments such as impetigo, urinary tract infections, shingles and skin infections. They can also offer advice about your medicines and provide emergency prescriptions.

"Before attending 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 department. This also reduces pressure on our team.

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

"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.

"Please understand that we cannot always offer the preferred next place of care in the location that you would choose, and we may ask you to compromise. Working with us to accept this means that we can keep the flow through our hospitals moving and offer care to the maximum amount of people who need it."