10,511 patients stuck on trolleys this month
More evidence of the hospital overcrowding crisis has emerged as new figures show a record-breaking 10,511 patients have been forced to wait on trolleys for a bed in March.
The dangerous conditions which patients must endure in congested A&Es now rank with homelessness as the two major failures of the Government.
Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show the number of patients on trolleys in one week reached 3,112, marking an all-time high.
March also had saw the highest number ever on trolleys in one day when 714 patients endured gruelling delays and high-risks conditions.
There are fears that next week will see another surge in trolleys after the Easter bank holiday.
Some 191 children were forced on to trolleys during March. There were 485 patients on trolleys across the country yesterday.
INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: "A figure of 495 was considered a national emergency in 2006. We expect that next week's figures will be high as our hospitals and staff continue to be overburdened particularly following the bank holiday weekend.
"During the month of March the INMO called for extraordinary measures to be put in place to focus on recovering from the adverse weather event, ensuring prioritisation of emergency care requiring all non-urgent and routine cases to be cancelled during that period.
"We are now calling for these measures to be implemented again.
"In this crisis all measures to properly resource and staff the health service must be explored and the assistance of services in the private acute hospitals must also be sought."
Health Minister Simon Harris has been fronting the campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment in recent weeks - raising fears that escalating waiting lists and overflowing A&E departments will take a back seat in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that 173 people have died from flu this winter, the highest official toll to date.
The average age at the time of death was 80 years.
The latest report shows that flu levels have dropped significantly after one of the longest seasons so far.
However, it continues to circulate and pose a risk.