Scotland’s National Clinical Director has urged those who are unwell to stay away from work in order to help the NHS.

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

Prof Leitch 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 in the UK to inherit from the Covid pandemic,” he said.

On Tuesday, senior medics said they have never been more concerned about the standards of acute medical care in hospitals across the UK.

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Some have described ambulances queueing 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, Professor Leitch said A&E is not the only part of the health service feeling the squeeze.

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

The Herald:

Covid, flu and Strep A are all contributing to the pressure but the fundamental problem is around bed-blocking, he said.

Between one in eight and one in 10 of all hospital beds are occupied by someone with Covid or flu, Prof Leitch said.

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He asked people to use the health service “wisely”, noting that 500,000 have used NHS inform to look up details of Strep A.

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

Those who are sick should stay at home, he said, adding: “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.”