With just 19 days to go to a hospital A&E meltdown, nurses have reported more than 300 patients on trolleys in emergency departments every single day this week with figures reaching 353 by yesterday.
Hospitals across the country will have to reduce services due to a chronic shortage of junior doctors after July 11, the date when doctors are rotated between posts as part of their training.
It is expected that one-in-three posts in busy A&E wards will be vacant with all emergency departments being forced to cut back their hours and some in rural hospitals being forced to close.
There were 160 patients on trolleys yesterday waiting for treatment in Dublin hospitals and a further 193 were on beds in emergency departments around the country.
After a bitter eight-year battle, the HSE has issued a statement officially accepting the trolley count by nurses following an instruction by Health Minister Dr James Reilly.
In the ongoing row, the nurse counts have consistently exceeded the HSE trolley count.
Mr Reilly gave a firm promise to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) that he would accept their count.
The HSE has written to all its Regional Directors of Operations telling them the INMO figures should be used to calculate the numbers of patients on trolleys.
The nurses have welcomed the HSE decision, saying in the past the HSE "contested our figures and said that we were effectively inflating the numbers and painting an unnecessarily black picture.
"The acceptance by the minister, and thereafter the HSE, that the INMO trolley watch figure is the most accurate measure of ED overcrowding is recognition of our professional approach to this issue.
"It is also recognition that the efforts of our members in A&E departments in highlighting the level of overcrowding has been worthwhile as this will now be the one measure used by all parties," said INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.
As the number of patients on trolleys continues to remain excessively high, the nurses have also called on the Department and the HSE to open beds that have been closed due to cutbacks and restore community services.
They say these measures are needed "to minimise this terrible patient experience and alleviate intolerable workloads on nursing staff".
Mr Reilly, in making his promise to the nurses, said "the reality is that without your insight, experience, expertise and commitment, the health service would not have got as far as it has got."
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