30 people awaiting a bed at Tullamore Hospital

Tipperary trolley numbers 45 wait on bed in South Tipperary General Hospital

South Tipperary General Hospital

While the number of people waiting for a hospital bed on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards fell to 483 on Friday, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the overall number recorded in the opening days of January was up 10 per cent on the same period previous year.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said the record number of patients waiting on trolleys or chairs waiting for beds in hospitals is unacceptable.

St Luke's Hospital in Co Kilkenny is the most overcrowded hospital in the country today - there are 57 patients awaiting a bed in the hospital today.

As the number of people waiting on trolleys and wards for a hospital bed fell below 500 on Friday, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it was exasperated at comments by Mr Varadkar about the current overcrowding crisis.

The INMO said 460 people were waiting on trolleys and 196 in wards waiting for beds.

In Dublin, the largest number of patients waiting for a hospital bed was at St Vincent's University Hospital, where 29 patients were on trolleys.

He said while today's figures are very high and not acceptable, the Health Service Executive's trolleygar figures show the lowest trolley numbers for the first Tuesday in January in three years, which he said is a "modest improvement".

Meanwhile Temple Street Children's Hospital clinical director Dr Adrienne Foran said she was anxious that a flu outbreak could occur when schools return next week.

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The overall figure for the country is 677 - which is a new record.

She said: "If you think your child has the flu next Monday, please don't bring them to school because then we will have a significant outbreak".

Harris said: "While recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we must continue to ensure the lessons that can be learned from those hospitals performing better are applied across the system".

MUH Clinical Director Dr Kieran O'Connor said: "In this context, visiting is being restricted to the hospital in the interest of patient safety".

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris both apologised today after nearly 600 hospital patients became the latest victims of the overcrowding crisis.

The Health Service Executive has urged people to get the flu vaccination and said the number of reported cases of flu had increased in the week before Christmas and it "is now actively circulating in Ireland".

The HSE said the H3N2 strain also circulated past year and particularly affected the elderly, while young children are more susceptible to influenza B.

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