The Association for Emergency Medicine is claiming that conditions in many Accident and Emergency departments have deteriorated significantly in recent months.

Speaking at its annual conference, Fergal Hickey, IAEM President, said that despite a big improvement last year, many A&E units are now back to the way they were, or even worse.

Mr Hickey said that because of the way the Health Service Executive calculates figures for how long patients are on trolleys, the numbers appear better than they actually are.

Emergency medicine doctors are warning that with the recent health cuts the situation in A&E departments this winter will be very difficult.

They say that if patients cannot get a hospital bed for planned surgery because of cutbacks, they will end up in A&E.

The association says that while it is not against plans to reorganise and rationalise A&E units in principle, new regional centres would have to be in place first, before any existing services were closed.