MORE than 3,600 patients had to wait on trolleys for a bed in the Mid-Western Regional hospital in Dooradoyle last year - more than double the figure five years previously.
New figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 2,299 beds in hospitals across the country have closed, including 19 beds in the Regional in Limerick.
The INMO said last year was the worst year for patients on trolleys since the organisation began maintaining records in 2004.
The figures confirm that 86,481 patients, who had been admitted to hospital last year, were left on a trolley waiting for a hospital bed.
This represents an increase of 14% over the 2010 figure of 75,859.
The annual survey confirmed that the number of patients on trolleys, in the greater Dublin area, actually fell by 6%, but the level of overcrowding in hospitals outside of Dublin increased significantly, year on year, by 12,810 or 33%.
The figures also show a the dramatic increase in the number of patients on trolleys in many hospitals around the country, however Limerick was not among this list.
In fact, the Regional hospital actually witnessed a small fall in the number of patients on trolleys, with 3,658 waiting last year and 3,715 waiting for a bed in 2010.
But figures for December in 2010 and 2011 showed there was a small increase in patients on trolleys in the Regional, with 284 and 299 people waiting respectively.