A health board has warned that it is dealing with unprecedented demand for services exceeding even the worst waves of the Covid pandemic.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway said the last few days had been “extremely difficult” for hospitals and community services.
Chief executive Jeff Ace said all its sites were “beyond capacity” and above levels needed for high quality care.
A review of hospital patients no longer needing clinical care is aiming to see if they can be safely discharged.
Mr Ace said the problem was due to high admissions and ongoing difficulties with letting people return home.
“We have a large number of people requiring acute care, meaning they need immediate medical support,” he said.
“We cannot close to emergency admissions, and our staff need the capacity to care for our sickest and most vulnerable patients.
“As a result, we are again reviewing all of those patients in hospital beds who no longer require clinical care, to see who can be safely discharged home or to a homely setting.”
He said there were currently 139 people in the region’s hospitals who no longer needed clinical care but were struggling to get home.
He said relatives and friends could be contacted to see what support they could provide in trying to ease that pressure.
“These are difficult times within health and social care, and it is unlikely that we will see an early easing of this pressure, which is unprecedented – even in comparison with the worst waves of the Covid pandemic,” he said.
“We are grateful for the huge support that is already being provided by families, carers and voluntary organisations throughout the region.
“How well we manage through this winter will be a test not just of individual organisations, but how we all continue to pull together as a community to support our most vulnerable people.”
He warned that people could face lengthy delays at emergency departments and urged them only to attend for genuine emergencies.
“We will continue to do our best to provide safe and high quality care to those most in need and we appreciate your ongoing support,” he said.