Nurses are calling for the State to sign deals with private hospitals now, to avoid the health system becoming over-run this winter.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says public hospitals will not cope with flu and Covid, without the help of private ones.
It wants an agreement reached with private hospital groups as soon as possible, to deal with significant staff shortages in hospitals.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha says private hospitals must be on standby to help...
This comes as there's a high number of patients on trolleys at hospitals across the region today.
There are 43 patients waiting on trolleys at Sligo University Hospital and 39 at University Hospital Galway.
18 patients are waiting for a bed at Mayo University Hospital and 4 at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.
Nationally, 485 patients are waiting on trolleys at hospitals today, with the highest figures at University Hospital Limerick today, where 74 patients are waiting on a bed.