The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for an emergency plan for a hospital in Limerick due to overcrowding.
The union said that 126 patients are on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the highest number of patient overcrowding in any Irish hospital since the union began its TrolleyWatch in 2006, it claimed.
However, that figure was disputed by UHL who said that as of 8am on Thursday, there were a total of 85 admitted patients waiting for a bed.
The hospital said the number waiting for beds were still "far too high".
A statement sent to therevealed that UHL has raised the level of escalation at the hospital on Thursday, resulting in cancellations.
"We need to balance emergency presentations with the needs of these time-critical elective patients and the current challenge at UHL only underlines the importance of providing an elective only hospital in the Midwest.
"Patients whose appointments or procedures at UHL are being cancelled will be contacted directly by hospital staff and will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We apologise to all patients affected."
UHL apologised to patients who have faced delays for beds saying it "is not the care we wish to provide for our patients".
It said the hopsital is under pressure as a result of sustained high demand at the Emergency Department.
"On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week a total of 273 and 259 patients attended our ED. This compares to the average 209 daily attendances during 2021, our busiest year on record."
INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty said the system is congested, adding: "Hospital management need to urgently stop admitting patients for elective care as there are no beds within the hospital."
Ms Fogarty said that staff at UHL are reporting "significant work-related stress" due to the "persistent" overcrowding.
"They are exhausted and burnt out. As well as trying to deal with a completely unsafe environment they also are dealing with public dissatisfaction and impatience with the situation in the hospital.
"They also have serious concerns for the safety of patients and have advised management repeatedly of same."
She has called on senior HSE management and the Minister for Health to "urgently act on what is a chaotic situation for the people of the Midwest".
"This complete mismanagement is unacceptable," she said, adding: “The situation in UHL has been allowed to fester for far too long. We need to see real, meaningful short, medium, and long-term action. Patients, nurses, midwives, and the wider hospital community deserve so much better.”