Elective procedures due to take place at University Hospital Limerick over the next three days have been cancelled because of the high numbers of people presenting at the emergency department and the consequent pressure on bed capacity.

In a statement this afternoon, UHL said elective activity along with a number of other diagnostic procedures due to take place from tomorrow through to Friday have been cancelled to de-escalate the pressure on hospital beds.

In the past number of days, hospital authorities have seen high volumes of patients attending, including many frail, elderly patients who have required admission.

In the 24-hour period up to 8am this morning, 238 patients attended the ED. This was an unusually high number for this time of year. 48 were awaiting admission this morning, 25 were in single-room cubicles, and 23 were waiting on a corridor.

Chief Clinical Director Prof Brian Lenehan said they very much regretted having to cancel elective procedures, particularly for those who have been waiting a long time for their procedures and have been self-isolating in anticipation of an admission.

But he said the high numbers meant there are significant bed-capacity challenges at the hospital.

Affected patients are being contacted, and he hoped they could return to normal elective activity next Monday.

People are being asked to consider all options before presenting at the ED. Injury clinics are open each day from 8am-8pm at Ennis and Nenagh hospitals, and until 7pm at St John's Hospital in the city.

Clinicians are also doing extra rounds to identify patients suitable for discharge from UHL or transfer to another hospital in the region.