The group representing doctors in Ireland has said there is a direct link between the hospital waiting list crisis and the lack of consultant recruitment.
The Irish Medical Organisation said there will be no progress on reducing waiting lists while an estimated 400 vacant consultant posts remain unfilled.
The most recent figures show there were more than 684,000 patients waiting in October, a rise of 6,000 on the previous month.
Chair of the IMO's Consultant Committee, Dr Peadar Gilligan, said the lack of consultants is having a major impact on the provision of services.
"We have a huge issue in Ireland now where when posts are advertised for senior doctor positions in hospitals we either get no applicants for them or very few applicants," he said.
"This is creating a difficulty with the provision of service around the country and hence waiting lists are increasing all the time."