Overcrowding in University Hospital Limerick has been compared to a scene in a hospital after a major national disaster in the Dáil.
A spike in patients on trolleys in hospitals across the country has led to unsafe conditions for patients and is also impacting on the health and safety of staff, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has claimed.
Referencing the front of today's Irish Examiner which showed corridors lined with people on trolleys, Mr Doherty said: "The pictures on the front page of today's Irish Examiner would be something akin to the scenes in the hospital after a major natural disaster, but there is no natural disaster, these scenes of overcrowded hospitals and patients lying on trolleys on corridors are becoming all too common."
He added: "In the last number of days the problem has gone from bad to worse.
"But to top it all off yesterday there was utter chaos in University Hospital Limerick where the number of patients on trolleys reached a level never ever seen in the history of this State."
The IMO recorded 81 people on trolleys in the hospital yesterday morning and Mr Doherty said this had jumped to 92 by the end of the day.
Responding Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the first quarter of this year recorded the "best figure" in terms of trolley numbers for five years.
Mr Coveney admitted that hospitals, including Limerick, Cork and Galway, are under pressure but they are responding to the increased number of people without a bed.
"We are investing in more capacity, we are trying to streamline management systems in hospitals to ensure that we can deal in particular with this time of year which is a pressurised time of year as you come through the winter," he said.
But he told the Dáil that there have been "particular issues" in the last 24 hours in Limerick hospital.