There are 654 admitted patients waiting for a bed in hospitals around the country, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, up from 640 yesterday.
The INMO said that this morning there 446 patients waiting in emergency departments, while 208 were in wards.
It has called for all non-urgent elective procedures to be cancelled as overcrowding is leading to “very dangerous situations for patients and nurses”.
The hospitals worst affected are University Hospital Limerick with 110 patients waiting; Cork University Hospital with 88; University Hospital Galway with 65 and 50 at Letterkenny University Hospital.
There were also 11 children waiting for a bed at the three children’s hospitals in Dublin, down from 27 yesterday.
University Hospital Limerick is curtailing elective procedures this week in an effort to increase bed capacity and is using beds in its day surgery ward and cardiology day ward to deal with surge capacity.
The UHL group said it does not schedule any elective procedures at any of its six hospitals in the first two weeks of the year, as it is the busiest time for the hospital.
Elective surgery is being reviewed on a daily basis, but only time critical cancer and cardiology surgery is currently taking place.
The HSE said many hospitals are experiencing very high levels of activity including in Tallaght, Galway and Letterkenny hospitals.
HSE Chief Operations Officer Damien McCallion said some hospitals are experiencing record attendances this week amid increases in respiratory illnesses, with the Executive advising people to consider all other options before seeking acute hospital treatment.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said during the past six-week “respiratory period” there has been an improvement in hospitalisations, but this week some hospitals are experiencing record attendances.
He said that anyone who has a minor injury should attend other facilities, but if it is an emergency situation to go to the ED or call 999 or 112 for the ambulance service.
The HSE is using all available facilities, he said, to keep the flow moving in the system and minimise the impact on people.
Mr McCallion said each hospital has a surge plan where they focus on trying to alleviate those pressures and move patients as quickly as possible to a bed, as well as discharge patients to an appropriate setting.
He added: “But what we’re seeing at the moment is record attendances in some locations and as a result, all of those efforts are being redoubled to try and make sure we keep the flow moving in the system and hence we minimise the delays for patients that have been triaged.”
During this period, he said, fewer elective procedures are taking place, but time-critical and trauma surgeries are carried out.
Additional reporting Cathy Halloran