The A&E crisis has now escalated to the point where psychiatric patients are being left on trolleys for days on end.
One of the country's most overcrowded emergency departments has seen a series of frightening incidents, including a staff member being attacked by a "psychotic patient".
Internal memos obtained by the Irish Independent reveal staff in the congested A&E at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin no longer feel they are working in a safe environment. So far this month:
n A psychiatric patient attempted to stab a healthcare assistant with a pair of scissors.
n Patients watched as a person tried to slash their own wrists.
n One patient was left 78 hours without their medication.
A mother and daughter from the US were told they would have to wait for 24 hours in A&E even though a bed was available at another Dublin hospital.
Gardaí were called to locate a patient who disappeared without treatment.
In an email to Beaumont CEO Liam Duffy, the hospital's Head Clinician in Emergency Medicine, Dr Peadar Gilligan, said a newly appointed care assistant "was almost stabbed by a psychotic patient" but was saved by "the bravery" of a colleague. There is no out-of-hours assessment unit in the hospital's Aislin Centre, where people with mental illness are cared for.
Today the Government launches its new national suicide prevention strategy.
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