Latest: Dáil passes Sinn Féin motion calling for more action on trolley crisis

Update 11.06pm: The Dáil has passed a Sinn Féin motion calling on the government to take more action on the trolley crisis.

The party called on the Health Minister to re-open all hospital beds closed during the austerity years.

It also wants full implementation of the Sláintecare report, which is aimed at introducing universal public health care.

It also wants the Emergency Department Taskforce to work on a permanent basis to monitor overcrowding.

Health Minister Simon Harris admitted the system is currently under pressure.

Update 4.43pm: Government won't oppose Sinn Féin motion on 'indefensible' trolley crisis

The government won't oppose a motion from Sinn Féin on the trolley crisis. 

The motion calls for all the hospital beds closed during austerity to re-open, and calls for a pay commission for healthcare workers. 

Sinn Féin will raise the issue in the Dáil this evening. 

Update 4.28pm: The Taoiseach has admitted that the ongoing hospital trolley crisis is "not defensible".

Leo Varadkar said that more than 400 sick patients were waiting for a hospital bed this morning and he insisted that the Government was doing all it could to alleviate the problem.

He said that plans to increase bed capacity were ongoing and that the health minister will present his review to the cabinet within the next few days.

"It is not defensible. If this was simply a matter of political will and not finance we would have resolved this a long time ago," Mr Varadkar said during leaders' questions in the Dáil.

The Fine Gael leader added that an additional 2,500 new inpatient beds are needed by 2031.

He warned however that the problem will not be resolved by increased resources alone.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Government of a "lack of planning", "lack of urgency" and "inertia".

"Three years ago you as minister for health said you were sick to death of the problem and would resolve it once and for all. That plan never materialised. The situation has become much worse," added Mr Martin.

The Taoiseach hit back, saying: "You were a member of the government in 2006 that declared this a national emergency and you were in government for another five years after that and that was 11 years ago."

He added: "A decision was taken in 2007 to start reducing our hospital stock. From 2007 onwards the number of acute hospital beds was reduced every year. I took the decision to reverse that."

Mr Varadkar said he does not want any citizen "to face the indignity or clinical risk that comes with long stays on hospital trolleys."

"As a doctor who worked for seven years in the health service, as a former minister for health and someone who has elderly relatives ... this is something the Government is doing everything we can to alleviate both short-term and long-term issues."

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams described the bed crisis as a "damning indictment of the Government's health policy".

Original story (10.55am): There are 541 patients waiting for hospital beds around the country today, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

That is nearly 40 more than yesterday.

The INMO's trolley watch has recorded 41 patients on trolleys and in overflow wards at Cork University Hospital today.

University Hospital Galway was the next overcrowded with 38, while there are 36 awaiting hospital beds at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Overall, there are 413 patients on trolleys and 128 in overflow wards in hospitals around Ireland today.

- Digital desk

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