UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick had the highest level of overcrowding in the country in May, according to monthly figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The figures show that UHL had 1,102 patients on emergency department trolleys and on additional trolleys or beds in the wards last month.
Trailing behind Limerick was Cork University Hospital with 824 patients on trolleys, followed b South Tipperary General Hospital with 661 patients.
It was the worst ever May for UHL, and a 28.4% increase on 2018 when there were 858 patients on trolleys.
The lowest ever rate was in 2008 when there were just 80 patients on trolleys.
UHL generally exceeds this figure within, at least, two to three days.
Nationally, there were 9,015 patients on trolleys.
Commenting on the figures, INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha: "Overcrowding in May 2019 is now at the same level as January 5 years ago. Clearly this is a capacity deficit and requires immediate investment in additional hospital beds.
“Considering the evidence of this continued increasing activity in our public health service, it is simply unacceptable that the HSE and Department of Health have introduced a recruitment pause. We know that this will simply lead to a chronic understaffing and overcrowding problem without any regard to person-centred solutions.
“Overcrowding and understaffing mean patients take longer to recover. That means worse care, higher costs, and greater risk of infection. Investment in beds and safe staffing is key to resolving this ongoing crisis.”
The HSE has approved more than €14m to fund the delivery of the 60-bed modular block, which will not be ready for use until late 2020.