Over 8,900 admitted hospital patients were left waiting on trolleys last month, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
According to its latest ‘Trolley/Ward Watch' figures, 8,903 people were left waiting on trolleys during the month of October, and a total of 82,459 people have been left waiting on trolleys in the first 10 months of this year.
Last month, the hospitals with the highest number of patients on trolleys were University Hospital Limerick (719), University Hospital Galway (679) and Cork University Hospital (635).
Tallaght Hospital had the highest figure among Dublin hospitals, with 425 patients on trolleys.
Last month's figure of 8,903 was 15% higher than the same period in 2016, when 7,730 patients were waiting on trolleys. However, it was 108% higher than the same period a decade ago (2007), when 4,278 patients were on trolleys.
Meanwhile, the figure of 82,459 patients on trolley during the first 10 months of 2017 is 96% higher than the same period in 2007, when 42,108 patients were on trolleys.
According to INMO general secretary, Liam Doran, these figures ‘yet again confirm the obvious reality that our public heath service is critically short of acute hospital beds'.
"This is having a serious, detrimental and harmful effect upon patient care," he insisted.
He said that a number of things are needed as we enter the busy winter period, including the opening of all available beds and the introduction of incentivised packages to recruit and retain additional nursing staff.
"In order to address this crisis, there cannot be any restriction on the funds available to increase the capacity of the health service as we enter the winter period," Mr Doran said.