The Irish Midwives and Nurses Organisation has warned that overcrowding reached dangerous levels today at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

There were 58 patients on trolleys in the hospital's emergency department this morning, but that figure was later reduced to 20.

The INMO said there is also an issue with patients who should be discharged but have to stay in the hospital because there is nowhere to send them.

The union earlier called for the hospital to go off call for at least 24 hours.

It said the overcrowding situation was causing hardship and inhumane conditions for both patients and staff.

INMO Industrial Relations Officer Tony Fitzpatrick said an urgent review is required of bed capacity within the Louth/Meath Hospital Group and the availability of beds in the community.

He said there is also a requirement for additional community nursing resources in the area to assist in the discharge of patients from hospital.

The Drogheda hospital serves an area that extends from Carlingford to Balbriggan across to Navan and up to Cavan.

The hospital did not provide a spokesperson earlier, saying all managers were too busy dealing with the situation in the emergency department.