500 on trolleys but 'things getting better': Minister
Health Minister Leo Varadkar insists overcrowding is down as much as 15pc compared to this time last year despite more than 500 people being on trolleys.
"This is not a problem that can be solved quickly, it's been around for about 20 years," said Mr Varadkar. "We're in better shape than we were last year, but still not in good shape", he said.
This comes after the number of people on hospital trolleys soared in the past few days - the figure hit 516 last night.
Mr Varadkar said 83pc of people visiting A&E were being seen in less than nine hours - while 17pc of people were taking longer than that.
The first few weeks of January are the busiest of the year for hospitals.
The Minister visited a number of hospitals yesterday to see the situation for himself.
"I want to make sure that hospitals are opening any beds that are closed and discharge patients that can be discharged," he said. "What is required is we make incremental improvements over the next number of years and that's going to require sustained focus ... sustained investment and additional capacity."