Figures presented to a meeting of the Emergency Department Task Force show that the number of hospital patients occupying beds, whose acute care has ended, is at 513.

The peak of so-called 'delayed discharges' in 2016 was 660 patients.

The meeting also heard that around 72 of 106 planned extra acute beds have been opened, as well as 18 step-down beds.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that figures for March for the number of patients on trolleys were down 11%, compared with  March last year.

But he said there was no room for complacency and that the answer to overcrowding included more beds, staff and a new GP contract.

Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show there were 392 patients on trolleys or wards today, waiting for admission to a bed.

University Hospital Galway was worst affected with 36 patients waiting.