The government must enlist the help of private hospitals to deal with the overcrowding of the public health system, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said.
The organisation's latest figures show that 838 patients are currently waiting on admission to hospitals around the country.
The General Secretary of the INMO, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said that it doesn't feel that the government is treating hospital overcrowding as the crisis that it is.
She told The Pat Kenny Show that the health system that they must stop the "cycles of dysfunction" that arise every winter.
"We're very disappointed that all of the warnings we have been giving and recording since mid-July have obviously have obviously fallen on deaf ears", Ní Sheaghdha said.
"It isn't a surprise that our hospitals are overcrowded in wintertime. It's not a surprise that it's going to get worse."
"Yet, the plans only started to be made last week", she added.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha is calling on the government to utilise the private healthcare system, like it did during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The INMO has been recording hospital overcrowding since 2016 in the hopes of illustrating through data the severity of a crisis like this.
It is so that the Minister for Health "doesn't just come along and say this is normal" and become complacent.
"What does it take for a crisis response if 930 patients don't bring it?", she asked.
"Let's stop describing the problem. Let's now describe what we're going to do to fix it."
Among the "very real problems" this crisis will cause, she said, is that the quality of care will deteriorate.
"Patient outcomes will be worse and nurses will decide to leave working in these environments", she said.
"They have been under tremendous pressure since the winter of 2019, when we saw an overcrowding crisis that we thought we'd never see again."
According to Ms Ní Sheaghdha, nurses have become disillusioned with their work environment as they cannot provide a high level of care.
"It is not acceptable that you have one person on a trolley because we know from the evidence that that will lead to a poorer outcome for that person", she said.
Main image shows an aumbulance outside the Mater Private hospital. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie