NHS Grampian has apologised to locals impacted by ambulance queues outside Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on Saturday night.
As many as 17 ambulances were stationed outside ARI as pressure continues to mount on the health service.
Healthcare workers have reported increasing numbers of patients at the city’s A&E department in recent weeks.
On Saturday, crews were seen taking pictures of the lengthy queue as they waited outside the hospital.
An eyewitness said: “At around 6.45pm on Saturday there were 17 ambulances plus one ambulance car parked outside the ARI accident and emergency department.
“There were no visible spaces for any patients arriving by private vehicles with a sign saying ‘parking in these spaces suspended’.
“In 25 minutes, we observed only one ambulance move from the scene.”
A spokesperson for NHS Grampian said: “Ambulances having to wait at the front door is regrettable and we apologise to anyone who has been impacted by this.
“At certain, often unpredictable points, we experience periods of exceptionally high demand at the emergency department.
“Our hospitals are currently facing sustained pressure due to the volume of acutely ill patients arriving, delayed discharges and staffing pressures.
“This can unfortunately lead to ambulances having to wait at the front door, as we are unable to admit more patients to the department.
“During Friday and Saturday, 299 patients were treated at the emergency department – 238 of these attendances were classed as majors.
“During periods of intense pressure, cases are triaged as normal with those facing life-threatening situations – such as heart attacks or strokes – continuing to be admitted rapidly for life-saving treatment as an absolute priority.
“It is vital patients phone NHS 24 on 111 before attending the emergency department or a minor injury unit – unless the situation is life-threatening, for instance a suspected stroke of heart attack, in which case you should call 999.
“Using the 111 service allows us to keep waiting times to a minimum and better manage hospital capacity.”
Work to reduce growing pressures
A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We are continue to work closely with NHS Grampian to improve hospital turnaround times for our ambulance crews arriving at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but are still experiencing significant pressure on our services due to lengthy hospital turnaround times, which is preventing our crews from getting back out on the road to treat other patients in the Grampian region.”
The queues come just days after an 86-year-old Aberdeen man had to wait more than 15 hours for an ambulance.
Last week NHS Grampian issued reminders on social media of the various avenues of care patients can turn to in times of need.
Individuals are being encouraged to only attend A&E in the event of an emergency; for instance, for a suspected heart attack or stroke, severe breathing difficulties or bleeding.
Behind the scenes, health bosses have been working to reduce the growing pressures.
In October, a £17 million action plan was unveiled.
The health board launched a major review to find immediate and long-term solutions to meet increasing demand at the city hospital.
Health chiefs are poised to add an extra 120 beds at the city’s flagship hospital by the end of 2025.