The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said the Health Service Executive is not showing enough urgency in recruiting nurses and midwives.

Speaking at the union's annual conference in Wexford, INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said the HSE must meet the agreement to recruit an extra 1,209 nurses by the end of this year.

Mr Doran said that some hospitals are telling graduates they will talk to them later in the year about a job.

He said that this Friday, King's College Hospital London is flying nurses and midwives from Cork to the UK to offer jobs.

Mr Doran said the penny had not dropped with the HSE. 

Meanwhile, the HSE has said that significant efforts have been under way to deal with nursing and midwifery recruitment issues in recent months.

It said that an international recruitment campaign is being planned.

The HSE said it will also be attending a specific recruitment event in Cardiff on 15 May, as well as events in Edinburgh and Glasgow in June. It attended an recruitment event in London last month.

INMO figures show overcrowding increased so far in 2017

Earlier INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said the issue of hospital overcrowding cannot be solved until bed capacity and hospital staffing are both increased.

Ms Harkin-Kelly made the comments after her organisation said the number of patients waiting on trolleys for an in-patient bed increased in the first four months of this year.

The INMO said 36,043 patients waited for a bed from the start of the year until the end of April.

This equates to the highest figure recorded for that period since records began, and represents a 1% rise on the 2016 figure.

However, the organisation noted that while the level of overcrowding is increasing, the rate of increase is slowing down.

The four-month figure showed a drop in overcrowding in hospitals in Dublin, but hospitals outside the capital showed what the organisation called "significant increases in the level of overcrowding".

The INMO also said that 7,199 patients spent time on trolleys waiting for beds in April, a 12% decrease on the same month in 2016.

The decrease was in both Dublin and country hospitals. Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Harkin-Kelly said bed capacity cannot be increased without staff.

She said the solution to recruiting and retaining more nurses is simple: pay them and value them.

Ms Harkin-Kelly said this would be the private sector solution, adding that authorities "need to start to recognise that there is a crisis amongst the nurses and midwifery profession."