Talks to avert a nurses strike are set to get underway next week
A leading consultant in emergency medicine says hospitals are using emergency departments as 'warehouses' for patients.
Dr Fergal Hickey from Sligo University Hospital says overcrowding is unacceptably bad.
Talks will take place this weekend in a bid to avert a nurses strike planned for next week.
Dr Hickey says nurses bear the brunt of patients anger, and cannot be expected to work in such conditions.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) 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.
Earlier the general-secretary of the INMO, Liam Doran, said he does not know if the strike can be avoided.
But he said conditions in emergency departments this weekend will play a part in the final decision.
"This weekend and early next week will be very telling - the experience of our people on the ground I think will be very significant" he said.
"They certainly told us in the last 48 hours that last weekend and the first days of this week things were not right, things were not different".
"The actions on the ground over the coming days will be a factor, and then we'll have to see what comes out of the formal talks whenever they commence" he added.