University Hospital Galway was the third most overcrowded in the country last month, with 728 patients on trolleys in January.
The month figures from the INMO show that since trolley numbers began being counted in 2006, there have only been two years that saw a worse start to the year at UHG.
Portiuncula Hospital also experienced a disastrous month for patients on trolleys, with 417 patients going without a bed.
Though this is less than at UHG, it is by far the worst January on record for Portiuncula, and almost twice as many as the next highest figure for that month.
Nationwide there were 11,289 patients on trolleys in Irish hospitals last month, with the worst affected being UH Limerick (1,180), Cork UH (1,145), UHG (728), Letterkenny UH (650), St Vincent’s UH (594).
NMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that nurses and patients have been enduring unnecessary stress throughout January due to a lack of proper planning.
“The number of patients on trolleys in wards outside our emergency departments have been unacceptably high.”
“This practice should not be allowed to continue as a measure to try take pressure off our emergency departments.”
A recent opinion poll in the Irish Independent found that almost three quarters of people would only go to an emergency department if their life depended on it.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that a strategy of telling people not to attend hospital will have long lasting knock-on effects.
“We cannot continue to accept the wait until things get unbearably bad approach before an attempt is made to lessen the pressure on our public hospital system.”
“Nurses and their patients deserve better than this,” Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.