The Minister for Health, Simon Harris said he was pleased with the progress that has been achieved so far this winter in reducing the number of people on trolleys in hospitals.

He said that in November there were over 1,800 fewer patients on trolleys, as compared to November last year.

So far in December the trend is continuing with 101 fewer patients on trolleys as compared to December 2016.

The Emergency Department Task Force is meeting to review overcrowding levels.

Latest figures show that all emergency departments have seen increased attendances and some hospitals have seen a significant increase in the admission of people aged 75 years and older.

There are around 119 acute beds closed in the acute hospital system.

Most of these are shut for refurbishment/maintenance, staff shortages or infection control.

Two hospitals have a large number of beds closed: Galway University Hospitals with 26 beds shut and St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny with 20.

There are also nearly 400 community nursing home beds closed for similar reasons.