Fianna Fáil’s Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has said today’s record trolley numbers are proof that the health service is in crisis.

He was commenting as the highest ever daily figure was recorded in a single hospital by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Union (INMO).

According to the INMO’s Trolley Watch, there were 81 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick awaiting a hospital bed this afternoon.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “The chaos we see in our A&E Departments is symptomatic of a greater malaise within the overall system. It’s like a chain reaction.

“Patients are lying on trolleys because there are no beds, there are no beds because there are delays with treatments, there are delays with treatments because there’s a shortage of medics, there’s a shortage of medics because there are issues with their pay and conditions.  The emergency department is just a bottle neck where we can see all these problems piling up.

“In fact today’s figures can be directly traced back to the closure last week of a 17-bed ward at UHL. It’s not a coincidence that there are dozens of people lying on trolleys just days after beds elsewhere were shut down.

“We can’t wait for this problem to get any worse.  Already in Cork University Hospital on Monday we’ve had a code ‘black’ whereby excessive waiting times made the hospital ‘clinically unsafe’.

“A multi-pronged approach is needed to tackle the problem from all sides. The Health Minister could start by paying doctors and nurses properly so we would at least have enough staff working in our hospitals. Without decisive action the health system will simply become sicker”, concluded Deputy Donnelly.