The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have revealed tonight that a record number of people have spent time waiting on trolleys so far this year.
The union’s latest Trolley Watch figures show that more than 57,600 people were waiting for a bed in Irish hospitals in the first seven months of the year.
However, the number for July this year is 6% down on the same month last year.
According to the data, University Hospital Limerick experienced the worst overcrowding, following by Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway.
Reacting to the latest INMO figures, General Secretary Liam Doran said the record levels of patients on trolleys, in the first seven months, is most alarming as the autumn/winter period approaches.
"These figures are further confirmation that our health service continues to be too small and, regardless of the initiatives that have been taken, demand continues to outstrip the capacity of the health service to provide timely, appropriate and dignified care.
"The situation must be the subject of immediate action, by Government, the Department of Health and the HSE, leading to additional funding, which must provide for incentivised staff recruitment, so that additional beds can be opened and properly staffed to meet ever growing demand”.
Mr. Doran concluded: “If our health service is to respond, appropriately, to both the emergency and planned admissions, additional bed capacity, and community nursing services, must be introduced.
"This will only be done when we solve the recruitment/retention crisis facing nursing and midwifery in Ireland. If we do not have additional nurses and midwives then we cannot expand our capacity and overcrowding levels will continue to grow”.