The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has rejected claims by Fine Gael that there has been a 25% increase in the number of patients on trolleys in regional hospitals compared to two years ago.

Fine Gael's Health Spokesman Liam Twomey said the numbers on trolleys in Dublin hospitals remained static, showing no real improvement.

However, Ms Harney said Health Service Executive daily statistics showed a consistent reduction in the number of patients waiting in A&E in Dublin, and in the majority of hospitals outside the capital.