More than 4,700, or one in 20 health staff were on sick leave every day in the first two months of this year, while the HSE's deficit drastically worsened.
At the end of March, the HSE deficit rose to €80.4m, which is three times higher than it was this time last year when the financial situation was regarded as particularly critical.
Absenteeism costs the health service tens of millions annually, and leads to hospitals and other services hiring expensive agency staff to maintain services.
The level of absenteeism rose to 4.8pc last January and was only marginally better at 4.77pc in February, despite claims by the HSE that it is attempting to clamp down on its embarrassing level of daily no-shows.
Meanwhile, the numbers waiting for more than a year for a specialist appointment were up 230pc at the end of March compared with December 2013.
While 4,937 were facing the long waits in December, this rose to 16,295 by the end of March.
The waiting lists for in-patient and day procedures also rose. There were 4,350 patients waiting more than the HSE's eight-month target in March.
Overall, 50,337 were on the in-patient waiting lists – up from 44,870 in December.
The number of new attendances at emergency departments has increased by 8,225 in 2014 so far, and more are having to be admitted to a hospital bed compared to this time last year.
At the same time, the number of people on public waiting lists who are getting into hospital are down.
There are 4,532 children currently waiting for an in-patient or day procedure.
Of these 3,711 are waiting less than 20 weeks and 821 are waiting beyond this time target.