The number of people forced to wait on trolleys in hospital accident and emergency departments because no other beds were available has gone up by nearly 50% in the last year.
In the first two months of 2003, the total number of people waiting in casualty units for a bed at breakfast time was nearly 3,600.
This figure has risen by nearly 50% from the same period last year, and is nearly treble the figure for two years ago.
Extra hospital beds and more social services support have been allocated, but these measures have fallen short in addressing the trolley wait problem.
There have been calls for additional social services support to avoid the situation where patients are desperate for a bed in one part of a hospital, while elsewhere, others are medically ready to be discharged but cannot until adequate social services support is found.