The number of patients left waiting on trolleys and chairs in Irish hospitals has already exceeded 100,000 so far this year, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
It has been counting the number of admitted patients without beds since 2004, but this is first time the 100,000 mark has been exceeded within one year. However, with one more month still to go in 2018, this means that the end-of-year total will be even higher.
According to the INMO's Trolley Watch service, 100,385 people were left waiting on trolleys between January 1 and November 28, 2018. Prior to this, the worst year on record was 2017, when 98,981 admitted patients were left waiting without beds.
The worst affected hospitals so far this year have been:
-University Hospital Limerick (10,554)
-Cork University Hospital (8,566)
-University Hospital Galway (6,821).
The worst affected Dublin hospital has been Tallaght Hospital (5,085), while the worst affected children's hospital has been Temple Street Children's University Hospital (663).
"It's not even December and we've already broken the record for the most patients on trolleys. Behind these statistics are vulnerable individual patients, forced to wait in unsafe, uncomfortable conditions.
"Frontline health workers are pulling out all the stops to deliver care in impossible circumstances, but the health service simply does not have enough capacity or staff," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
Responding to the figures, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said that the fact that the 100,000 mark has been exceeded before the end of the year 'shows the depth of the crisis facing the country's health service'.
"When will this national disgrace be definitively addressed? When will our Government stop telling us it cannot be addressed overnight? Trolley waits have been a patient care issue for two decades. When will the suffering of patients and staff be addressed with adequate bed capacity and staffing levels?" asked IMO president, Dr Peadar Gilligan.