A new report on community nursing in Ireland indicates that the service is under severe strain.
It points to the lack of reform which has led to a service which is struggling to meet the demands of a changing national demographic and earlier discharges from the country's acute hospitals.
The report's author, Dr Amanda Phelan, says the number of community nurses has not increased in 40 years.
She said: "The number of community nurses has not changed over the last 40, 50 years, yet the population has risen.
"Unlike hospitals you can't close a ward, whatever population is there, there is no way to limit that. So you have a higher population with more complex needs."