A total of 12,943 admitted patients, including 447 children, have been treated on trolleys or chairs in March, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
Analysis by the INMO shows that over 69,417 people have been without a bed in the period covered by the HSE’s Winter Plan.
INMO general-secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “This has been the worst March for overcrowding since the INMO began counting trolleys in 2006. In some hospitals the level of overcrowding we have seen has been out of control and cannot be allowed to continue into the spring and summer months.
“Our analysis on the success of the HSE’s Winter Plan, which is due to come to an end today, has shown that more people than ever have been on trolleys during the health service’s winter period (October-March) with just under 70,000 people on trolleys during this period."
Ms Ní Sheaghdha added: “It is time for the HSE and Department of Health to devise a multi-annual plan as to how we tackle overcrowding. It is clear that it is no longer just a winter overcrowding crisis but a year-long one.
“The State cannot expect nurses to bear the brunt of the crisis and work at full tilt in constantly overcrowded and understaffed wards year-round. Nurses want to be able to carry out the high quality care that they have been trained to do but cannot provide in these circumstances. There must be a change in mindset in how we approach this overcrowding crisis across from senior decision-makers from hospital management to HSE senior management levels.
“The INMO has sought to meet with the HSE to discuss these issues.”
There are 500 people are on trolleys on Friday, including 30 children under the age of 16.
The five most overcrowded hospitals in March were: University Hospital Limerick (2,080), Cork University Hospital (1,530), University Hospital Galway (1,048), St Vincent’s University Hospital (870) and St James’s Hospital (675).