Nursing Unions have called an emergency meeting with the HSE as overcrowding reaches crisis levels at Cork's two biggest hospitals.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says conditions at Cork University Hospital and the Mercy Hospital are 'appalling' - while flu levels have prompted visitor bans at several hospitals across the country.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the HSE has confirmed they will meet with officials at 3pm today in a bid to work out a solution across the weekend.
She said: "We knew that the hospitals were under pressure, particularly The Mercy and Cork University Hospital and they are now in a situation where they have so many people on trolleys.
"Their hospitals are overcrowded to such an extent that they are very concerned about the services that they will be trying to put in place next week."
More than 11,000 patients were left waiting for a bed at Cork University Hospital in 2019 and the figures for the first few days of 2020 have been among the worst in the country.
Speaking to The Echo this week, Dr Conor Deasy, a consultant in Emergency Medicine at CUH, said the hospital was experiencing “unprecedented overcrowding”.
He explained that the HSE’s desire to control budgets saw services fall by the wayside and patients were impacted as a result.
“We have experienced unprecedented overcrowding in the emergency department in 2019,” said Dr Deasy.
“The emphasis on budgetary control has meant that those services that can stop or reduce services do so to come in on budget.
“But this creates extra work elsewhere in the health system,” he added.
“As a people, we deserve better than we are getting,” added Dr Deasy.
“Canvassing politicians should have credible strategies and a commitment to implementing them if they are to get your vote in 2020.”