Health campaigners, unions and political activists have called for a national campaign to demand improvements in the health service.

The Still Waiting Campaign aims to increase hospital beds, restore lost services, and work towards a single-tier health system.

A conference organised by the Still Waiting Campaign in Dublin today heard personal stories from family members of those affected by waiting lists. 

Linda Comerford, representing the group Enough is Enough, said: "It should not matter where you live in Ireland in order to get a service."

Ms Comferford said there were few supports for adult children with special needs and added that "accessing home support is like trying to win the lotto".

Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients' Association said that 300 people a year were dying due to overcrowding.

He predicted that thousands more could die in the coming years while waiting for the problem to be addressed.

The coordinator of the Still Waiting Campaign, Cyril Brennan, said that fixing the system would take "the largest solidarity movement ever seen in Ireland".

He said it was up to the Irish people to get out and help.

An A&E consultant, Dr Jim Gray, said his main concern was the trolley crisis.

He said the Sláintecare report provided a road map for attacking the problem but he too warned that things were moving too slowly.

Paul Bell of SIPTU said that a national campaign was a must and he urged the public to become involved, through local campaigns, unions or political groups.