A HEALTH board has moved into "Code Black" after it said three of its hospitals had run out of space.

NHS Lanarkshire said on Wednesday it was “beyond critical occupancy levels across its three acute hospitals” because “relentless pressures, bed shortages and staff shortages due to annual leave, sickness absence and self-isolation”.

University Hospitals Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw are all at maximum capacity, the board said, which urged people not to turn up at Accident and Emergency if their condition wasn’t life threatening.

Heather Knox, NHS Lanarkshire’s chief executive, said that the “safety of our patients and staff is our top priority and we are working through short and medium term actions to increase staffing and also improve the flow of patients in and out of hospital”.

READ MORE: Patients ‘sleeping on recliner chairs’ in overcrowded hospital, inspection finds

“The current situation puts us back to the highest level of risk for NHS Lanarkshire,” she said.

“The impact of the current pressures is being felt right across the health and social care system, including GP practices which remain extremely busy.

“We recognise that our staff are doing everything they can and showing the highest levels of professionalism, commitment and resilience.

“We hope that the current actions being taken will help ease the pressures on our staff and services.

“Despite this escalated level of risk, we have decided at present to continue to maintain our current visiting arrangements.

“However, this will be kept under review.”

She added: “Our three A&Es remain extremely busy with long waiting times to be seen.

“Patients are also waiting in A&E for admission to beds.

“We strongly advise people that, if your condition isn’t life-threatening, please do not attend our A&Es, call NHS 24 on 111 to access the right care.

“Only go to A&E, or call 999, if it’s an emergency.

“We recognise that experiencing long waits can lead to people getting frustrated but we ask that people be patient and be kind and considerate to our staff at all times.

“We are working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances to do the very best we can for each and every one of our patients.”