The organisation says 2019 "must see real changes"

2018 was the worst year on record for hospital overcrowding, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

Figures released today by the INMO show that a record 108,227 patients went without hospital beds.

That's a 9% increase on 2017, and nearly double the number recorded in 2006 when INMO records began.

January, February and March saw the highest figures last year.

Worst affected hospitals included Limerick University Hospital, Cork University Hospital and Galway University Hospital.

The INMO has blamed low capacity and understaffing for the crisis.

General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha argued: “The health service does not have enough beds to support our population. More beds means more nurses, but the HSE simply can’t hire enough on these wages.

“Patients should be focused on recovering, but instead have to worry about waiting times, understaffing and a lack of beds. 2019 must see real changes in policy and funding to resolve this once and for all.”