Ireland is in breach of an EU directive on working hours for junior doctors, a legal opinion published by the European Court of Justice has said.
In the legal opinion, the Advocate General found that by excluding the training hours for non-consultant hospital doctors from "working time", Ireland was in breach of the directive.
It is not a final ruling, but the opinion is likely to be upheld by the court.
"Most of the 24-hour breaches are in the areas of 25, 26 hours - people running beyond their shift because proper systems haven't been put in place – and obviously that's a challenge for local management," Eric Young from the Irish Medical Organisation said.
"But there are still some pockets where doctors are being expected to work 22 hour shifts. The Government and the HSE recognise they do have a serious challenge which they have to address."
He said the IMO had been working closely with the HSE for a number of weeks, but it is not moving quickly enough and patients remain at risk.