More than 600 patients were waiting on trolleys in hospital emergency departments or on wards on Wednesday morning, according to the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The INMO said 396 people were waiting on trolleys in emergency departments, while 207 patients were in wards elsewhere in the hospital.
University Hospital Limerick had the highest number of patients on trolleys (68), followed by Cork University Hospital (47), the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (45) and South Tipperary General Hospital (42).
Minister for Health Simon Harris said the trolley numbers had been "far too high in recent weeks" and that the HSE was due to publish its winter plan on Thursday.
“I’ve allocated €26 million to the HSE for a winter plan. I’ve provided more funding and at an earlier point in the winter than we have done in the past so they have certainty of funding, they know about the extra money that they now have,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“That will provide significant extra resources for more homecare packages, transitional care, to try and reduce the number of people who are delayed in our hospitals, people who have perhaps finished their medical journey but need support to either go back to the community or indeed go to a nursing home.”
Mr Harris said waiting lists are “beginning to fall for the first time in a long time”.
“We are seeing a reduction month on month every month in the amount of people waiting and the length of time they’re waiting for a hospital operation,” he added.