University Hospital Limerick is facing heavy overcrowding today with 81 patients waiting for admission to a bed, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

Other hospitals facing significant overcrowding are Cork University Hospital with 58 patients waiting and the Mater in Dublin with 40 patients waiting.

Overall around the country, the INMO said that there were 610 patients waiting for a bed, either in emergency departments or on wards.

The Health Service Executive's separate TrolleyGar figures put the number of patients waiting in emergency departments for admission to a bed at 464 - a 96% increase on the same day last year.

The HSE Winter Plan for 2018/19 provided for 75 extra acute beds and 70 community beds.

The Department of Health has said that there were on average 10,956 inpatient beds open during the first half of the year.

Its recently published open beds report said that the number of available inpatient beds is expected to increase to above 11,000, following the investment planned in the National Service Plan 2019.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Department Task Force is due to meet later this month to discuss overcrowding, with winter approaching and the influenza season expected to begin.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said the figures from the INMO are "shocking".

Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, she said that last month was the worst September on record in terms of hospital overcrowding.

Deputy McDonald said patients were tired of the Government's "ready, steady, stop" approach and she said Sinn Féin would not allow it to continue.

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged that overcrowding in hospitals was very severe this morning and he apologised to the patients and staff who had been affected.

He said the vast majority of people who were on a trolley this morning would be in a bed before the evening is out.

Mr Varadkar said the situation had deteriorated since June which he said was partly down to the number of people attending emergency departments.

He said action was being taken and more beds were being added to the hospital system.

He said the Government was investing in Fair Deal which was helping to reduce the number of delayed discharges.

Deputy McDonald said the system did not have the capacity to deliver the care that people need.

The Taoiseach said there would be a "significant" increase in resources in the Budget next week for resources in the health services.

Additional reporting Aisling Kenny