Nearly 600 people are waiting for hospital beds today, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's trolley watch.
The INMO says 595 patients are waiting on trolleys at hospitals nationwide today.
The hospitals with the highest numbers today are Cork University Hospital with 64, University Hospital Galway with 58 and 50 at University Hospital Limerick.
The INMO says overcrowding for the first three days of this week was 46% up on the same three days last year.
Their figures show for the first three days of this week, 1,718 patients were waiting in Emergency Departments and in overflow wards. For the same three days last year there were a total of 1,173 awaiting a bed.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “These figures confirm that hospitals cannot cope, the system is unable to manage patient flow and the burden is falling on nursing and medical staff who are forced to work in intolerable conditions.
"We are now in the second week of April and the figures are getting higher."
Ms Ni Sheaghdha said the Government has to recognise that the health service is in crisis.
She said: "These numbers are the equivalent of three whole hospitals of patients for whom there are no beds. This is a national emergency inflicting indignity and unnecessary suffering on patients and subjecting nursing and medical and other staff to extraordinary health and safety risks.
"The INMO is again calling for the protocol applying to any emergency to be applied immediately. This should include utilisation of the private sector, cancellations of all elective day and inpatient procedures and concentration on de-escalation procedures.
"There must be an immediate focus on realistic recruitment and retention measures for nursing staff to prevent this situation continuing to deteriorate.”