"Severely overcrowded": 38 on trolleys in Mullingar Hospital

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Meanwhile, University Hospital Limerick recorded the highest annual number of patients on trolleys at 8,869, with Portiuncla Hospital recording 1,569 on trolleys in 2017, compared to 892 in 2016.

"This is the third year in a row where we have had more resources and a bigger budget and despite all of that we haven't seen an improvement and that is very frustrating".

"I am committed to breaking the cycle of overcrowding in the health service".

Other hospitals with bad overcrowding included St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny, where 46 people were left waiting on trolleys.

"High levels of burnout have been reported amongst nurses working in overcrowded environments", she said.

Thursday, 4 January saw 592 people waiting on trolleys or wards for a hospital bed across the country.

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She said that Mr Varadkar's "version of stability involves a 92 per cent bed occupancy on average, 500-plus patients waiting for admission on trolleys, nearly 700,000 patients waiting for an outpatient appointment, an ever-increasing number of cancelled operations and procedures, and a general practice system which is struggling to meet demand and is near to collapse".

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The hospital said that the situation would be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

The HSE's National Director for Emergency Management and National Ambulance Service said the health service has put in place a range of measures to deal with an increase in winter illnesses, including flu. Hospitalised cases of influenza and influenza-associated outbreaks in residential care facilities have also increased.

He said the crisis is due to the fact that acute hospital in-patient bed numbers were cut by 1,400 in the past decade when they should, at a minimum, have been increased in tandem with the country's growing and ageing population trends.

"An increase in a nurse's workload, by one patient, increases the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by seven per cent".

Dr Foran said the challenge for the hospital has been to find isolation beds to treat patients with the flu.

However in a statement to the Limerick Post, a hospital spokeswoman said: "the number of nursing vacancies at UL Hospitals Group is at an all-time low following successful national and worldwide recruitment campaigns".

Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway recorded 6815 and 6563 respectively, while the Mater University Hospital in Dublin was the capital's most overcrowded hospital with 5238 patients on trolleys during 2017.

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