TROLLEY gridlock has returned to hospitals with 461 patients enduring overcrowding and delays in getting a bed across the country yesterday.
The HSE blamed the "seasonal influx" for the overcrowding, which it said "traditionally takes place after Christmas and the new year".
The numbers undermine pledges by Health Minister James Reilly, who promised that scenes of overcrowding, which saw 569 on trolleys on January 5, 2011, would not be repeated.
There were 359 on trolleys in A&E departments and another 102 lying on trolleys in wards yesterday morning. This compares to a total of 284 this time last year.
Limerick Regional Hospital was the worst hit with with 39 patients on trolleys, with St Vincent's and Beaumont Hospitals in Dublin also badly hit.
The HSE said that hospitals were working with the Special Delivery Unit to ensure they balance the demand for emergency and non-emergency admissions.
"As a result of these actions, there has been a 10pc reduction in the number of people waiting on trolleys at 2pm (222) compared with 2pm yesterday (246)," it said.