Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been warned that the country is facing into another winter health crisis in emergency departments without sufficient planning.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, in the Dail, questioned why €50m had been spent in health last year on overspending instead of extra beds, as the money was set aside for according to reports.
He said that some 100,000 patients will have waited on trolleys by the end of the year. Delayed discharges would also result in the loss of 36,000-bed places in hospitals, it was added.
All of this, coupled with some 25,000 people waiting over 24 hours for a bed in emergency departments, would have knock-on effects for mortality rates and would worsen illnesses, Mr Martin claimed.
The hospital beds crisis also put massive "pressures" on units and staff, Mr Varadkar was told.
The Opposition leader said the HSE's winter plan was still not released.
He also raised reports that some 50m, earmarked for extra hospital beds, was last year poured into general overspending in the health sector.
Mr Varadkar responded that 214 new beds in hospitals had been opened this year and another 79 would be by the end of December.
Furthermore, there were huge differences in hospital bed waiting lists. Patient numbers were also down in September and so far in October, the Taoiseach told the Dail.
But Mr Martin again returned to the coming months and preparation.
Too many elderly people were suffering from delays in emergency departments, he said. Furthermore, the country was “facing into another winter of crisis” without any planning, it was claimed.