Talks aimed at averting a nurses strike next week are due to get underway immediately.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation are due to hold two-hour stoppages at seven hospitals next Thursday.
The dispute centres on conditions in Emergency Departments and the high number of patients waiting on trolleys.
The Minister for Health has said the action will put patients at risk - and head of the Irish Patient Association's Stephen McMahon, agrees: “You would have a climate in the particular hospitals that would not be so much centred on patients but on the disruption due to industrial action.
“It would certainly be my view that everybody is there so that patients can get quicker safer access to care and not be getting involved in these demonstrations really of a lack of trust in the local management.”
The IMO (Irish Medical Organisation) has begun balloting non-consultant doctors in University Hospital Limerick for industrial action.
It marks the escalation between doctors and management over the non-payment of money accrued through overtime hours.
Industrial action could start on Monday, January 18, if members vote in favour of the action.