Overcrowding at the Mater University Hospital emergency department in Dublin has eased today with 30 patients reported to be waiting for admission to a bed.

According to the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation, at one point last night, there were over 100 patients in the emergency department, with one patient waiting over 68 hours for a bed.

The hospital has said it is experiencing the highest level of attendances at the emergency department in the last three years.

For the month of May, it is estimated that more than 8,500 patients will have been seen in the emergency department.

The hospital said this is 20% higher than the level of attendances at the emergency department prior to the pandemic.

The Mater said that despite the extremely high numbers, the patient experience times in the emergency department are on average below those seen prior to the onset of the pandemic.

It added that all of its staff are working tirelessly to improve the capacity of the ED and services.

The hospital has apologised for any delay that patients are currently experiencing.

INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Maeve Brehony said that retention of nurses must be paramount.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Ms Brehony said that while this time of year is usually quieter, the situation at the Mater Hospital remains "very concerning".

"This is exactly the wrong time. Normally we would see things being quiet at the moment, but there are massive presentations to the ED, which is of huge concern and that the waiting times are very concerning."

Ms Brehony added: "The nurses are totally burnt out. They can't continue to work in these conditions. This is when we're supposed to be hopefully coming to the other side of Covid. We can't go back to the bad old days of overcrowding."

"Retention of nurses in our system has to be paramount. We have to consider the Mater, not just as a place of care for patients, but also as a workplace for our members and they deserve to know that their concerns around this issue are being taken seriously by hospital management and that safe staffing is a priority."

She said that there are no Covid-related absences at the Emergency Department currently, but there are challenges regarding recruitment and retention.

"Key to retention is having a safe place of work and people feeling that they can come to work and that management have their back, and there is a safe staffing mix for them when they come into work," she said.