The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has once again called for hospitals to curtail all non-emergency activity.
This comes following a record-breaking 23,281 cases of Covid-19 provisionally reported by the Department of Health on Saturday.
As of 8am on Saturday morning, 656 patients were in hospital with Covid-19, of which 85 were in ICU.
In a statement released by the INMO, it called for non-emergency services to be curtailed in a bid to reduce workplace transmission of Covid-19 in hospitals.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, warned about the high levels of burnout among healthcare staff.
“The INMO is today repeating our call for non-emergency activity to be curtailed in our acute public hospital system,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
“Our fragile health services are being held together at the moment by an exhausted nursing workforce who are experiencing high levels of burnout.
“Annual leave is being cancelled by many in order to fill rosters and many nurses are reporting that they are staying beyond their scheduled work hours to care for patients.
According to Ms Ní Sheaghdha, the Irish hospital system is too small to cope with emergency care on top of Covid-19 care and elective treatments.
“It is time for the State to step up and ensure that all capacity that can be gained from the private sector is used,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
The HSE and political system has a responsibility to an exhausted medical workforce to ensure their workplaces are as safe as they can be.
“There must be no tolerance for hospital overcrowding while a highly transmissible airborne virus is making its way around our hospitals.
“Improvements to air quality in our hospitals must be a priority” she added.
“As we head into what is traditionally a chaotic time in our hospitals, the normal January patterns of overcrowding in our hospitals should not be tolerated.
“Our hospitals cannot operate on goodwill of staff alone, we need and urgent capacity plan from the HSE.”