Hospital consultants are warning the country's public hospitals could be facing an extremely damaging crisis in the new year - which could last for months.
The Irish Hospital Consultant's Association says the HSE's Winter Plan announced last week is 'too late and too limited'.
IHCA Secretary General, Martin Varley, says the planned funding of an extra 75 acute hospital beds is nowhere near what's needed.
He said: "As you go into the winter and the crisis peaks we could have 700 or more, and some are speculating up to a thousand patients on trolleys or waiting for beds.
"75 is only a tenth of that, so it really doesn't address what is a massive under-resourcing and lack of beds in acute hospitals which we need to treat patients on time."