Beleaguered Health Minister and Tánaiste Mary Harney was tonight under increased pressure to ease A&E overcrowding as hospital managers were accused of denying the extent of the problem.
The Irish Nurses Organisation revealed more than 300 people were languishing on trolleys every night for the last week – the highest figures ever recorded.
Liz McManus TD, Labour Party spokeswoman on health, said the Tánaiste was constantly looking to pass the buck.
“This situation is simply intolerable, both for those seeking treatment and for hard-pressed staff who have to try and cope with the chaos,” she said.
“When it comes to this crisis there is no political leadership.”
Liam Doran, INO general secretary, said the Tanaiste, Department of Health and Health Service Executive must now accept the need for additional bed capacity.
He said the situation was worse than ever.
“Frontline staff, and patients, cannot and should not, be left, on a daily basis, in overcrowded environments with all layers of management effectively denying the extent of the problem,” Mr Doran said.
The INO insisted an emergency action plan had to be put in place. The group funding had to be earmarked to increase bed capacity, provide minor injury units and open, and staff, all available unused beds.
Mr Doran added: “Regardless of all of the arguments and statements to the contrary, everyone, except the various, and numerous, layers of management, accepts that A&E overcrowding is getting worse, not better.
“This is the message that management must listen to and act on, instead of criticising those who bring these facts, however unpalatable, to the public’s attention.”
The INO’s trolley watch revealed 374 people were awaiting beds. The worst affected hospitals were Tallaght with 58, Galway with 38 and St Vincent’s with 28.
Ms McManus added: “Ultimately, the Government must acknowledge that its approach has failed miserably. The A&E crisis has been building for years, and despite repeated attempts and promises to resolve it, the simple facts are that patients are still suffering due to the Government’s incompetence.”