There are 668 patients on trolleys, or on wards today, the second highest level recorded, under figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The hospital worst affected today is University Hospital Limerick with 60 patients waiting, under the figures compiled at 8am.

There were 45 patients waiting at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin and 39 at Letterkenny General Hospital in Co Donegal.

HSE figures put the number on trolleys in emergency departments this morning at 520.

The highest level of overcrowding ever recorded under the INMO count system was 677 patients on 3 January last.

Unlike the INMO figures, the TrolleyGar figures do not give the number of patients placed on wards, who are waiting for admission for a bad, having already been admitted from an emergency department. 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the INMO has said the number of people on trolleys has jumped since this time last year and it is clear that hospitals cannot cope.

Phil Ní Sheadhagh added that some hospitals, such as Limerick, seem unable to move patients as quickly as others.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Ní Sheadhagh said capacity cannot stand alone but must be linked with staffing requirements, and the INMO remains extremely concerned with the inability to recruit and retain extra staff.

Separately, Minister for Health Simon Harris was due to bring a review of hospital bed capacity to Cabinet this morning.

The review was likely to state that an extra 2,500 hospital beds will be needed by 2031.