SCOTLAND’S national clinical director has urged people feeling unwell to stay away from their work in order to help the NHS.

Jason Leitch urged people not to “lose hope” about the state of the health service, which has come under severe pressure.

The National spoke with Dr Philippa Whitford who said that a COBRA-level response was needed to deal with the issues facing the health service.

Some have described ambulances queuing outside emergency departments and being forced to treat patients outside the doors of the hospital.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Leitch said A&E is not the only part of the health service feeling the squeeze.

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“If we lose hope, then we’re in trouble. So there are thing we can do in the system to make it better”, he said.

Covid, flu and Strep A are all contributing to the pressure but the fundamental issue is around bed-blocking, Leitch added.

He explained that between one in eight and one in 10 of all hospital beds are currently occupied by someone with either Covid or flu.

He also urged people to be patient with services like NHS 24 due to high demand.

Those who are sick should stay at home, he said. Leitch continued: “It means not going to your office, not going to drive that bus.

“If you have a virus, if you’re not well, you should stay at home.”

He also said it would not be a “bad idea” for people to wear face masks in public places.

"That will be no bad thing for Scotland to inherit from the Covid pandemic”, he said.

Leitch’s words echoed those of another top UK health boss who similarly urged people to wear masks or remain at home if they are suffering from a cold or flu.