Scotland’s hospitals are preparing for the "worst winter ever", according to medical association chiefs.

Health bosses have warned hospitals will face difficult months as Scotland sees Covid deaths almost doubling overnight.

Reports also show A&E departments are under pressure with the number of patients that would be usually seen in January.

This has resulted in a shortage of beds and patients being transferred to different wards to be treated. 

READ MORE: Scots A&Es hit lowest compliance with waiting times targets since December during Covid spike

John Thomson, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland, told The Times: “We are seeing winter in summer and that does not bode well for winter. We are likely to face the worst winter ever if things do not change.”

Most recent data show 81.6% of patients treated in A&Es are being discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours, which is below the Scottish Government targets.

During the week ending July 4, 572 patients had to wait for eight hours or longer before being admitted, while 113 spent 12 hours or more in an emergency department.

Mr Thomson said staff are working with "one hand tied behind their back" and that it is putting patients at risk.

He added: "“I know of one site in Scotland where they have had patients in the emergency department well beyond 24 hours.”

Health boards across Scotland have been forced to cancel planned operations - including NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and NHS Lanarkshire.

Calvin Lightbody, A&E consultant at Hairmyres Hospital in Lanarkshire, said: “Over the last few weeks our A&E departments have been as busy as any time I can remember in recent years with numbers extremely high for a sustained period.

“We had nearly 700 patients in a single day last week across the three hospitals. We are seeing a number of seriously ill and critically ill patients with urgent issues such as chest pain, strokes and serious bleeding.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “As restrictions begin to relax, we have seen a rise in admissions and non-Covid attendances, with levels returning to pre-Covid averages over recent weeks.

READ MORE: Warning as quarter of under 30s hospitalised with Covid suffer serious complications

“We continue to work with health boards through the redesign of urgent care programme to ensure people are seen safely and to help the public access the right care in the right place at the right time, often as close to home as possible.

"Through this programme, we are encouraging people to contact NHS 24 on 111 if they think they need A&E but their condition is not life-threatening. This will ensure people get the right care for them and allow A&E to provide the fastest and most appropriate care for people when and where they really need it.”

On Thursday, Scotland recorded 19 Covid deaths in 24 hours, the highest figure since March, while 543 were in hospital with a confirmed diagnosis, of which 47 in intensive care.