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Harney slammed in hospital beds row

The number of sick people waiting on trolleys and chairs for a hospital bed fell below 500 today.

A survey of A&E crisis overcrowding found 492 patients unable to get a space on a ward, down 78 from yesterday's headcount.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (Inmo) said Cork University Hospital, the Mid-West in Limerick and Beaumont and Tallaght in Dublin were facing the worst conditions with more than 33 people waiting for a bed in each emergency room.

Jan O'Sullivan, Labour's health spokeswoman, accused Health Minister Mary Harney of failing to respond.

"The very least that people should expect when there is a mess like this, is for some kind of reaction from the person who is supposed to be in charge. Instead we get a deafening silence," she said.

"Just where is Mary Harney, and why at a time when people expect some leadership and some action, has she gone to ground?"

Crisis in A&E waiting time was declared a national emergency in 2006 when 495 patients were recorded on trolleys in one day.

Ms O'Sullivan added: "It is simply not acceptable that people are forced to endure these appalling conditions, and yet the minister does not seem to give a hoot."

Other hospitals badly hit by overcrowding were the Midland Regional in Mullingar with 29; Cavan General with 27; Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda with 24 and in Dublin, The Mater with 29; St Vincent's with 25; and Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown with 24.

PA Media