13 people awaiting admission to Letterkenny University Hospital

Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise

Nearly 100,000 people had to wait on hospital trolleys in emergency departments past year, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

UHG was third only to University Hospital Limerick and Cork University Hospital in the grim trolley league table, with the Limerick hospital clocking almost 9,000 patients waiting on hospital trolleys over the course of a year ago.

St Luke's Hospital in Co Kilkenny is the most overcrowded hospital in the country today - there are 57 patients awaiting a bed in the hospital today.

The previous highest level of overcrowding was recorded on 3 January a year ago when 612 patients were waiting for a bed.

He said that he will be updated by each hospital group CEO on the situation tomorrow.

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Mr Varadkar on Thursday apologised to patients who had experienced long delays and waits on trolleys in emergency departments over recent days.

She said that Mr Varadkar's "version of stability involves a 92 per cent bed occupancy on average, 500-plus patients waiting for admission on trolleys, nearly 700,000 patients waiting for an outpatient appointment, an ever-increasing number of cancelled operations and procedures, and a general practice system which is struggling to meet demand and is near to collapse".

"I am committed to breaking the cycle of overcrowding in the health service".

"We are also seeing children who need a hospital bed being held overnight in emergency departments; a new and worrying trend that is not captured in any of the official figures".

Significant numbers of patients are now awaiting admission to the hospital.

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As a result, the hospital is restricting visitors to one person per patient only and said visiting hours must be strictly adhered to.

January typically sees the highest numbers on the trolley watch as the flu virus peaks and leads to increased demand for in-patient services on the already under pressure hospital system. In Dr Susan O'Reilly's plan, these two hospitals are supposed to take patients from Portlaoise if it is downgraded.

However in a statement to the Limerick Post, a hospital spokeswoman said: "the number of nursing vacancies at UL Hospitals Group is at an all-time low following successful national and worldwide recruitment campaigns".

The Health Service Executive has urged people to get the flu vaccination and said the number of reported cases of flu had increased in the week before Christmas and it "is now actively circulating in Ireland".

"The HSE has in the last fortnight also been notified of a small number of deaths directly related to influenza (less than 10)".

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