Over 9,500 patients were left waiting on trolleys in hospitals nationwide last month, including almost 50 children, new figures have shown.
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, which compiles these figures as part of its ‘Trolley Watch' service, this is the highest number of patients on trolleys that has ever been recorded in August.
A total of 9,562 patients were left waiting on trolleys last month, with 1,197 of these found in one hospital alone - University Hospital Limerick.
The other worst affected hospitals were Cork University Hospital (1,051), University Hospital Galway (655) and South Tipperary General Hospital (597).
The worst affected hospital in Dublin was the Mater Hospital (489), while the worst affected children's hospital was Temple Street Children's University Hospital (34).
The overall number of people waiting last month was 20% higher than the same period last year, when 7,936 people were on trolleys, and 137% higher than the same period a decade ago, when 4,043 were on trolleys.
According to INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, this is the "tragic ongoing reality in Ireland's health service" and the HSE's recruitment ban "has to go".
"To see nearly 10,000 patients on trolleys is bad in itself, but this is a summer month. These figures signal an even more dangerous winter, when extra demands are typically placed on hospitals.
"At the core of the problem is staffing, as there are well over 1,300 nursing and midwifery vacancies across the health service. This is no time for recruitment bans. Vacancies need to be filled so that patients get the care they need," she said.