The government will be forced to focus on finding solutions to hospital overcrowding if nurses decide to take industrial action over staffing levels.
That's according to Professor Anthony Stains Head of Health Systems in the School of Nursing in DCU, who thinks it may be the push the government needs to stop talking and start acting.
On Tuesday, a record 931 individuals were waiting for medical care on trolleys - the highest figure since the State began keeping records.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is consulting its members on whether to strike over unsafe staffing levels..
Professor Staines told Newstalk that the move could pressure the government to "start making some of the hard decisions".
"It's not going to make things better for staff or patients if there are fewer nurses working in the wards", he said.
"This is a message to really stop talking about making changes and start making changes."
The number of patients on trolleys halved within the last three days.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder yesterday, Minister Donnelly said the situation had ameliorated since then.
“The situation is better today,” he said.
“I’m delighted to see that we’ve had a 50% reduction in the number of patients in trolleys over the last three days and the figures I have just in the last few hours show that they’ve come down further again today.
“We’ll see where we’re at 8am tomorrow but we had very high figures Monday and Tuesday.
“I’d like to acknowledge the stress for patients, for their families and for our own healthcare workers.”
The head of the HSE says its Winter Plan is 'clearly not sufficient' to deal with 'a clear patient safety risk'.
Stephen Mulvany was speaking as public healthcare providers have been asked to move to a 7/7 operating model to deal with hospital overcrowding.
That means they have been told to work at full capacity all week, instead of just Monday to Friday.
Mr Mulvany told Newstalk Breakfast the levels of flu are much higher than they had projected.
"Clearly the Winter Plan, and multi-annual plans that we've been putting in place at this stage, is not sufficient to deal with what we see as a clear patient safety risk in front of us", he said.
Main image shows a nurse in uniform in front of a hospital. Picture by: Alliance / Alamy Stock Photo