The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says there are 292 patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments today.

This month's trolley watch figures are generally much lower than the same period last year and compared to previous years.

The highest number ever recorded was 569 patients on trolleys on 5 January, 2011.

Prior to that figure, 495 patients were on trolleys in March 2006, a situation described at the time by then Health Minister Mary Harney as a national emergency.

Today, the Mater Hospital in Dublin has just one patient on a trolley in its emergency department. A similar situation is reported at Letterkenny General and Kerry General.

The hospital with the largest number of patients on trolleys today is Cork University Hospital where 34 patients are waiting for admission to a bed.

Among the factors at play are a milder winter and few cases of influenza.

Last year during the lengthy spell of snow, hospitals had to deal with a large number of fractures.

The Department of Health and Children's Special Delivery Unit has also been targeting eight hospitals that are responsible for 60% of the trolley wait figures.

They are St Vincent's, St Columcille's, Beaumont, the Mater and Tallaght in Dublin, as well as Cork University Hospital, Galway University and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.