'This is not how we should treat our most vulnerable - it's a national scandal'
An Emergency department consultant has branded the high number of patients on trolleys in hospitals "a national scandal".
Dr James Gray, who is based at Tallaght Hospital, was highly critical of the INMO figures which show the numbers on trolleys remained close to 500.
"This is a disgrace," he said. "It's a national scandal... Many of those patients are elderly, the most vulnerable in our society.
"These patients feel that they can't speak out quite often... they don't feel they are in a position to. So a lot of this is often swept under the carpet, unless it's highlighted," he said.
"A measure of a society is how we treat our most vulnerable.
"And if you take ED crowding as one aspect of how we deal with vulnerability, we are doing it very badly in Ireland," he added.
Dr Graysaid the effects on patients waiting for extended periods were multi-faceted.
"A lot of elderly patients would be coming in requiring investigation for things like infection, pain and pneumonia," he said. "Anybody who has been on a trolley for a number of hours will testify they are not comfortable for long periods of time. There is (also) an infection risk because patients are cramped."