University Hospital Limerick has announced that it has had to cancel all but time-critical elective surgery tomorrow because of high attendances at its emergency department, and high-capacity occupation of its inpatient beds.

All six sites across the University of Limerick Hospitals Group are very busy with extremely high numbers of sick patients turning up at the department.

They include significant numbers of children and frail older patients with complex health conditions.

Over the 24-hour period since 8am yesterday, 278 people attended the emergency department.

The UL Hospitals Group said: "Unfortunately, demand for inpatient beds is such that we have had to cancel all but the most time-critical elective surgery at UHL tomorrow Wednesday 15 March.

"Patients affected are being contacted directly by hospital staff this afternoon.

"Elective activity is continuing at the groups other hospitals outside of UHL, and the Hospital Management Team (HMT) is keeping the situation under constant review.

"However, because of the busy conditions people who go to the ED today with a less urgent condition will face a long wait to be treated".