A SCOTTISH health board has been forced to put out an “urgent call” for help from staff amid “extreme pressure” on its services.

NHS Borders put out the emergency message on its social media on Friday, warning that the severe pressure on its services was being “compounded by higher than normal staff sickness levels due to Covid and flu”.

“We are therefore asking any staff, and particularly those who are not currently rostered to work over the four-day weekend, to consider what extra time, day or night, you would be able to cover,” the health board said.

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“We know that this is a very big ask on top of how hard everyone has been working, but we need to alleviate some of the pressure on staff who are rostered to work and do everything we can to keep our patients as safe as possible.”

The NHS board further clarified that the emergency call was aimed at “all staff, including clinical, facilities, and administration”.

It comes as A&E waiting times performance hit another record low, with just 55% of patients seen and subsequently admitted, discharged or transferred within the four-hour target in the week to December 18.

In the same week, a record 1821 people waited longer than 12 hours in A&E – an increase of almost 700 from the previous week. The number of people waiting more than eight hours increased by almost 1500, from 3045 to 4536.

Iain Kennedy, chairman of BMA Scotland, recently said the NHS cannot survive in its current form.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Dr Kennedy said: “There is no way that the NHS in Scotland can survive. In fact, many of my members are telling me that the NHS in Scotland has died already.

“It’s already broken in some parts of the country. So the time is now, we need the national conversation now, it cannot be delayed any further.”

Across England, around a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services have declared critical incidents in the last 10 days, with officials saying the health service faces “one of the toughest winters in its history”.

Figures from south of the Border also show a huge surge in the number of flu patients, with numbers rising 79% in the last week.

An average of 3746 people with flu were in hospital across the seven days to December 25, up week on week from 2088, according to NHS England.

The number was just 772 at the start of the month.