The Health Service Executive (HSE) will be able to handle a surge of the Delta COVID variant by cutting other services.
That is according to Anne O'Connor, Chief Operations Officer for the HSE.
She told The Pat Kenny Show things will be different with any new surge.
"Well we will have to cope, we coped in the surges last year which was very difficult.
"And I think that what we will see is again a reduction of other types of activity - so that is how we will cope.
"The challenge for us is where we have our staff that are unavailable to work.
"With vaccination that is different - so we're in a different place now in terms of the number of the general population and staff that are vaccinated.
"Whilst we expect to see a smaller number of people admitted than we have before, there will be people admitted to hospital and there will be people admitted to ICU.
"And that will mean that we won't have that capacity available for other things.
"This is a trade-off, really: so the more people that come into our hospitals with COVID, the less we can do of the other work.
"And that is becoming a very serious situation for us".
'High numbers presenting'
She says they are seeing an increase in patients presenting, but this could be a delay from May.
"What we can see is that we have high numbers of people presenting to our emergency departments.
"I would just urge caution on this a bit: if we look back over the last five years or so, we can see that May generally is a very high month for attendances.
"We would see over 100,00 in 2019... May would always be a very busy month.
"We don't know if it's just a deferred May-type attendance, but we know that in many of our sites we are seeing extraordinarily high levels."
She says a number of larger hospitals - such as Galway, Cork and Limerick - have attendances "what we would expect to see in the peak of a winter surge.
"We're watching it closely, and we'll have to see how it goes in terms of beds.
"I think a challenge for us really is when it impacts on the available beds - where we have people waiting to get into a bed and where we don't have enough beds.
"That's when we start to become very worried".
New cyber attack challenge
On the HSE cyberattack, she says most of their systems are now back up and running.
"We're nearly back - we have 80% of our servers that have been decypted now and 83% of our end-user devices.
"So in terms of our critical systems, most of those are back - we have some glitches in a small number of systems - but overall the systems have come back".
But she says they now have another challenge: "For those eight weeks, we weren't able to use the systems and we created a lot of paper.
"We've recorded a lot of appointments, prescriptions, diagnosis - all of that that have to be entered into the records.
"And the challenge for our whole system now is entering all of that data, all of that backlog has to go in".