Doctors at Scotland's biggest emergency department have warned patients are "waiting for others to die" to get a bed, having asked for a major incident to be declared.

NHS Scotland has been under severe pressure this winter, with levels of Covid still high, as well as outbreaks of flu, noravirus and strep A.

Patients have been urged to take "sensible precuations" to try and minimise the risk of infection, as well as only attending A&E if absolutely necessary.

Staff in the emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth University hospital, the largest in Scotland, called for a major incident to be declared earlier this week due to "grave concerns" about the safety of patients.

And one member of staff told The Herald patients are unknowingly waiting for others to die in order to get a bed.

A source said: "The emergency department is struggling to cope, I understand a recent request to declare a major incident in order to get more help was declined but things haven't really improved and we're angry - very angry.

"We're having to send patients to wards to 'share the risk' as we simply don't have the space.

"We're sending patients to wards that don't have any rooms available, meaning patients are having to sit in the corridor and use staff or public toilets.

"By 'share the risk', they mean clear space to let the ambulances in and foist critically ill patients off onto other wards - which are also full - on the off-chance they may get an empty bed and it doesn't reflect in our figures.

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"In some instances, patients are (unknowingly) waiting for someone to die so they can get the bed.

"It's 2022. Our waiting room is packed, our ambulance bays are queued out and no one seems to want to raise the profile of this incident incase it's embarrassing to GGC.

HeraldScotland: Backed up ambulances at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in GlasgowBacked up ambulances at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow (Image: Newsquest)

"In short, we're trying to provide first world care in what feels like a third world environment.

"Patients waiting in corridors for other patients to die isn't something I thought could ever happen here, but it is happening and the board are refusing to follow the advice of its senior doctors."

A major incident would involve extra resources being diverted to the hospital due to the health of the community being under threat, with special measures put in place to try and ease the burden.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde declined to declare a major incident, but said it was taking action to support staff.

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According to BBC Scotland, staff sent a series of messages stating that every emergency bed was occupied, no resucitation beds were available and patients were facing an eight hour delay in being unloaded from ambulances.

Futher messages included fears of "real patient harm" and warnings that the department was "unable to provide safe critical care".

In the week up to December 18, just 45 per cent of A&E patients at the hospital were seen within the four-hour wait target.

Across the country 55% of patients waited for more than four hours, while across the country 1,821 people were forced to wait for more than 12 hours.

HeraldScotland: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, which opened in April 2015

Jackie Baillie, deputy Scottish Labour leader said: “This is an incredibly serious development which lays bare the crisis in our NHS.

“Staff at the QEUH have been put in an impossible situation and patients' lives are being put in danger.

“We need action now to support our frontline NHS staff who are crying out for help.

“This crisis has occurred completely under the watch of Humza Yousaf - it’s time that he did the right thing and resigned.”

A spokesperson for NHS GCC told the BBC: "We have an escalation policy that would allow us to declare any major incidents and we closely monitor the safety of our departments and patients at all times and keep this under close review.

"Our services, like the whole of Scotland, are facing major pressures including significant Covid, flu and norovirus cases and our staff are doing all they can to meet this demand."

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It comes as NHS Lothian warned that respiratory viruses were putting extra pressure on its services.

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, St John’s Hospital, the Western General Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People are all at full capacity.

Dona Milne, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, urged people to help reduce the spread of infections to protect themselves and the most vulnerable in their communities.

She said: “Although they can be mild infections for many, RSV and Flu can be extremely serious for some people causing them to require urgent hospital treatment. We have now reached extraordinary levels of flu in Scotland that we haven’t seen for many years.”

“We are asking anyone who has cold or flu like symptoms to help limit the spread of infection and reduce the chances of passing it to someone who will become very unwell.

“Stay at home if you feel unwell. And if you do have to go out, please wear a mask. People should also remember to wash their hands, and cough or sneeze into a tissue and bin it.”