A patient in Dublin has been forced to wait three and a half hours for an ambulance after calls to emergency services this evening.

A relative of the patient, who is in the Knocklyon area of Dublin, placed the first 999 call for an ambulance at about 5:15pm.

Relatives placed at least four further 999 calls over a period of about three hours and 20 minutes.

They were told the patient was in a queue of approximately 15 or 16 other patients waiting for an ambulance.

On one call the caller was told the delay was due to the fact that hospitals were not releasing trollies back into ambulances, which would allow ambulances to be sent out.

On another call the caller was told it was a particularly busy night.

At about 8:40pm a spokesperson for the Dublin Fire and Ambulance Service confirmed to RTÉ News an ambulance was en route to the patient.

The spokesperson said the delay was due to the fact there were not enough ambulances available.

The spokesperson said a triage process had been carried out over the phone to ascertain the patient's condition.

The spokesperson added in cases of serious emergencies where an ambulance was not available, a fire engine carrying paramedics would be sent on a call-out, however, this was not deemed to be necessary in this case.

When the Dublin Fire and Ambulance Service does not have an ambulance available, an ambulance from the National Ambulance service is requested, according to the spokesperson.

The spokesperson said the ambulance now going to attend the patient in question was from the National Ambulance Service.

The patient concerned had been hospitalised for five days last week.