On a corridor of University Hospital Limerick, space is in short supply. So too, it seems is patient dignity.

Trolleys are lined up on both sides. On them, those in need of medical care are waiting to be admitted. Most of them are elderly.

Behind the daily statistics, this is the reality of healthcare in our emergency departments. The secret footage was captured in recent days. Where we recorded, there are more than 20 trolleys visible.

Such is the overcrowding, one set of doors in the middle of the corridor can barely swing open. And beyond them there is no let up, as more trolleys and more patients are packed in.

For the staff, as well as caring for the sick, there are extra challenges. Even moving around can be a problem as they navigate past trolleys.

Meanwhile, patient safety is surely a concern as some are without masks, close together.

And it seems there is little relief as ambulances are lined up outside, delivering the latest flow of patients.

Earlier this week a "major internal incident" was declared at the hospital due to "record high attendances" at the hospital's emergency department.

In a statement then, the UL Hospital group said the "unprecedented" number of people attending the ED has been driven by a surge in respiratory infections, including Covid-19, flu and RSV.

Extra staff were asked to present at UHL for work, while other staff are being redeployed to the emergency department to care for additional patients.

The hospital said: "We apologise to every patient who is currently experiencing a long wait for admission at UHL, and for the inconvenience and frustration this causes for patients' loved ones," it said.

Yesterday, the Irish Medical Organisation called for 5,000 more beds to be made available to deal with pressures on hospitals with 838 patients being recorded on trolleys nationwide.

That was the second highest number recorded, following on from Tuesday's record number of 931.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was unacceptable for patients to be on trolleys for hours or overnight.

The situation in our hospitals has been described by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly as a "perfect storm", as waves of flu, Covid and respiratory illnesses hit.

And if it is a storm, judging by our footage, the shelter seems wanting.

Responding to the footage captured by RTÉ, a HSE spokesperson said: "Emergency Departments continue to be extremely busy due to the unprecedented combination of very high levels of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses in circulation.

"As the HSE has continuously advised over the last number of weeks, the impact of the sustained high level of respiratory illness is having a serious effect on our emergency departments.

"The HSE regrets that patients are experiencing long wait times in our hospitals. We are working as hard as we can to provide services to those patients and to support our staff.

"We also thank all health service staff, in hospitals and in community services, for their commitment to working through this incredibly difficult time whilst also providing cover for staff who may be on sick leave.

"Again, the HSE is appealing to people seeking medical care or assessment to consider all options before going to a hospital Emergency Department, during what is now the busiest ever [period] experienced by the health service. While some patients will regrettably experience long wait times in our emergency departments, urgent patients will always be prioritised for treatment and care."