There are 601 patients on trolleys or on wards today, waiting for admission to a hospital bed, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the third highest figure so far this year.

There are 471 patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments today, according to Health Service Executive figures.

The highest number ever recorded by the INMO was 612 patients waiting on 3 January, while 602 patients were recorded waiting on 4 January.

According to the INMO, the hospitals worst affected today are University Hospital Limerick with 48 patients waiting, Cork University Hospital with 43 and Tallaght with 41.

The impact of influenza has reduced in recent weeks.

The HSE's TrolleyGar figures, which do not include those waiting on wards, represent a 33% increase in the number of patients on trolleys in emergency departments on this day last year.

The HSE says the worst affected are Tallaght, with 42 patients on trolleys, University Hospital Waterford, with 38, and Galway University Hospital, with 35 patients waiting.