A Fife emergency department is seeing more patients coming through its doors than it did before the coronavirus pandemic.
NHS Fife is now asking people to use A&E responsibly by accessing the right care in the right place – to take pressure off its services.
The health board says the number of daily A&E patients is exceeding even the traditionally busy winter period.
This creates longer waiting times and difficulties in maintaining social distancing.
It is urging people with other ailments to visit their nearest minor injuries unit, local pharmacy or GP.
Dr Chris McKenna, NHS Fife’s medical director, said: “The A&E department at the Victoria Hospital is busier than it has been for a very long time.
“It’s vital that only those with life or limb-saving emergencies attend A&E as this allows our clinical staff to devote more time to those people who need it most.
‘People may have a longer wait than usual’
“If you need urgent medical attention and it’s not life-threatening, please NHS 24 on 111 where you will be assessed over the telephone and referred to the right healthcare professional for your needs.
“I would also ask people to be patient during their time in A&E, as they may have to wait longer than usual to be seen.
“While I appreciate long waits are frustrating, our staff are working exceptionally hard during challenging circumstances.
“I would urge people to be mindful of this by showing not only patience – but also kindness and courtesy.”
Last year the Right Care, Right Place initiative was introduced for urgent care provision.
It was designed to help people see the right medical professionals and reduce the pressure on frontline NHS services.
Those with life-threatening conditions including suspected heart attacks or strokes, severe breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, or severe injury should continue to go straight to A&E or call 999.
Anyone who thinks they may need A&E where their condition is not life-threatening should call NHS 24 on 111.