30 people awaiting a bed at Tullamore Hospital

This is the fourth week that the number of people on trolleys has hit 600

This is the fourth week that the number of people on trolleys has hit 600LYNNE CAMERON PRESS ASSOCIATION

A public briefing is also expected later in light of trolley numbers hitting record levels - yesterday 677 patients were waiting for a bed at hospitals around the country, 53 of those at University Hospital Limerick.

"Despite investment in winter plans, smaller hospitals are now severely overcrowded which is manifestly unsafe and leads to higher cross infection and poorer outcomes for patients", she said.

The INMO publishes the figures in its daily Trolley and Ward Watch report.

Nationally, there were 656 patients on trolleys, the highest number ever recorded.

The Health Minister has insisted "no effort or resource is being spared" to improve the overcrowding situation in hospitals.

The Taoiseach apologised to patients experiencing long delays in hospitals and expressed "regret and frustration" that there has not been an improvement despite increased investment.

The Minister added that the HSE has his support in any enhanced measures it seeks to take to help alleviate the current crisis.

The hospital issued a statement this evening asking that patients, in the first instance, consult their Global Positioning System for medical assessment, where possible.

Mr Harris said: " I would encourage everyone to follow HSE advice in the coming days and take steps to prevent the spread of the flu.

"I've heard people talking about the flu and now the Aussie flu and you'd wonder how the hospitals will cope if it gets much worse".

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick had the highest number of patients on trolleys on the same week the national overcrowding record was broken, it has emerged.

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".

Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fail health spokesman, said the numbers on trolleys a re a damning indictment of the Government.

The INMO claims that the midland hospitals are all very overcrowded, particularly Mullingar and Tullamore, with figures of 38 and 42, respectively.

She said there are "clinical nursing concerns" around access to surgery in the hospital.

It also said that children should not be brought on visits anywhere in the hospital.

Nurse representatives are meeting with the HSE to discuss hospital overcrowding.

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