Nearly 300 patients are queuing on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards waiting for admission to hospital beds, nurses have said.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has maintained that there has been a spike in the number of patients, deemed to require admission, who have been waiting for beds in hospitals over recent days.
On Wednesday, the INMO said there were 293 patients in hospitals across the country waiting either in emergency departments or on wards for admission to beds.
It said there were 58 patients waiting for a bed at University Hospital Limerick and 33 at Cork University Hospital.
The INMO said there were 27 patients queuing for admission to a bed at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar and at University Hospital Sligo.
On Tuesday the INMO said the worst levels of hospital overcrowding had been experienced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring when 316 patients across the country, deemed to require admission, were waiting for a hospital bed.
The INMO said on Wednesday that it could not point to one single reason for the increase in the number of patients waiting for beds.
It said there appeared to be a general rise in the number of people presenting to hospital and that this could follow on from the relaxation of Covid -19 restrictions or be as a result of regular winter pressures on the hospital system.
The INMO has expressed concerns this week about the potential dangers of overcrowding in a Covid-19 environment.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said on Tuesday:
“This is an incredibly dangerous time to slip into old bad habits. Overcrowded wards are a breeding ground for contagious viruses.
“The number of people on trolleys has been far lower this year. If we take our eye off the ball now, infection rates in our hospitals will skyrocket.”
“Over 12,000 healthcare workers have caught Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Many of those staff are still living with symptoms, meaning that staffing is under even greater pressure. “Decisive action on overcrowding is needed urgently to avoid putting patients and staff at serious risk.”