Nurses and midwives are facing into "yet another winter where they are left in impossible and often dangerous care environments," according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO)
Marking World Patient Safety Day, the union said 5,210 patients, including 100 children, have been left without a hospital bed since the start of September.
The INMO warned that persistent overcrowding in Irish hospitals is impacting patient care, and called for the HSE to attend the coming week's Emergency Department taskforce meeting "with renewed and workable solutions to reducing overcrowding".
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said nurses and midwives provide exemplary care, "but the conditions in which they are expected to carry out their practise are getting worse with each passing day with the number of patients on trolleys in wards right across hospitals increases".
"We know that overcrowding of this nature has significant impacts on the long-term health outcomes of any patient that spends more than six hours on a trolley," she added.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE and individual hospital groups must "bring something new to the table" at Monday's taskforce meeting to tackle these challenging conditions over the coming months.
"Our members are reporting that significant overcrowding coupled with unmet recruitment and retention targets are making it impossible to provide safe care to those who need it most.
"Year-on-year we are having the same conversations about the very real impact hospital overcrowding is having on patient safety.
"Senior decision-makers must prioritise the de-escalation of overcrowded areas and remove these very real barriers to providing safe care to patients in our hospitals," she added.
By Muireann Duffy
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