Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said efforts will be redoubled in the next couple of weeks to tackle overcrowding in hospital emergency departments.

Mr Varadkar said about 1,000 beds and homecare packages had been put into the system recently but this obviously had not been enough.

He said 175 additional community nursing unit and step-down beds would be provided.

Mr Varadkar said there would also be a media campaign to ensure people made use of minor injury units.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said the jump in waiting lists for patients needing hospital care demonstrates that the health service is in a crisis.

Mr Kelleher said: "The rapid increase in those on waiting lists points to a growing crisis within the health service that Minister Varadkar is simply failing to come to terms with.”

Responding to a report in the Sunday Business Post that waiting lists for hospital care had trebled in one year, Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: "These latest figures underscore the folly of the Government's attempts to relieve the crisis situation in emergency departments.

"The tripling of the number waiting, thousands for over 12 months, is due in no small measure to the cancelling of planned procedures in an effort to free up theatre time and hospital beds.

"This is merely tinkering with the problem and shows again an unwillingness to face-up to the real causes of the crisis.

"It also shows no appreciation of the distress, and often pain, that those awaiting access must endure."

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive has issued a tender for the supply of trolleys for use in emergency departments.  

The tender seeks a supplier of trolleys that must be robust, easily manoeuvred and cleaned.

The tender document also states they must be comfortable for patients.

An initial supply of 30 trolleys is requested and the closing date is 19 March.