The number of people waiting for a hospital bed has reached the highest level recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warning of a "dire situation" in hospitals if the matter is not addressed.
According to the most recent trolley-watch figures, 381 patients were waiting for a bed in hospitals around the country on Monday morning.
Cork University Hospital was the most overcrowded, with 47 patients waiting on trolleys. However, the INMO explained the temporary closure of Bantry General Hospital is likely a contributing factor.
University Hospital Limerick had the second highest number, with 41 patients waiting for a bed, followed by University Hospital Galway (39), Sligo University Hospital (26) and Mayo University Hospital (26).
The current wave of Covid infections is putting the health service under increasing pressure, with 217 people now in hospital with the virus, showing a sharp increase from 50 Covid patients reported on July 9th.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the health service is "rapidly swinging" between a Covid crisis to an overcrowding crisis.
"The HSE said at the start of the pandemic that overcrowding would not be tolerated, but it has been on the rise consistently in recent months.
"Our members cannot withstand the pressures of overcrowding twinned with the pressure of another wave of Covid. If we continue along the current trajectory, patients and staff will find themselves in a dire situation."
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE needs a "laser-like focus" to get overcrowding figures down, adding: "That means scaling back services in badly hit hospitals, taking on extra capacity from private hospitals, and supporting GPs to return to their normal clinical work."