The Health Service Executive has said it is running out of patience with hospital consultants after talks on new work practices ended without agreement yesterday.
HSE Director of Human Resources Barry O'Brien said consultants had agreed at the Labour Relations Commission two weeks ago to recommend acceptance of proposals on new rosters and cuts in overtime to their members, and to return with an early decision.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Brien said the HSE wanted confirmation on the issue from the consultants.
The HSE wants the new practices to commence on 5 November.
However, the Irish Medical Organisation has rejected that an agreement had been reached two weeks ago.
IMO Industrial Relations Director Steve Tweed said: "The LRC produced a set of proposals and the covering letter from the LRC asked the IMO to consult with their members and if the proposals were accepted, it would then become an agreement for implementation."
He said there was no date of 5 November on that.
Mr Tweed said his consultant members were ready to implement new work practices if two outstanding issues on pay for psychiatric consultants and on rest days were resolved in the Labour Court.
However, he criticised the HSE, saying the agency was not even ready itself to go ahead with implementation of new seven-day rosters and overtime.
Yesterday’s talks involved the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, IMO and HSE.
Fianna Fáil has called on Health Minister James Reilly to explain why an industrial relations breakthrough with hospital consultants has "turned to dust".
This follows the collapse yesterday of talks between the HSE and consultants' representatives on implementing proposals for new work practices.
The HSE is now seeking an urgent referral of the matter to the Labour Court.
HSE decision is 'most unhelpful' - ICHA
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has described as "most unhelpful" the HSE's decision when no disagreement on the proposals had yet been identified.
The IHCA said this was most regrettable and could not be in the best interests of patients or taxpayers.
It said consultants had been working well beyond their contract hours and implementing widespread change under Croke Park over the past number of years.
However, it accused the HSE of appearing to be intent on jeopardising that good work with its current approach to reform.
It said it was surveying its members to ascertain their view of the proposals set out by the Labour Relations Commission last month.
That process which should be concluded in a "short number of weeks" would determine the level of support for the proposal - and the HSE would be advised of the outcome.
Frontline services will be affected - Kelleher
Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that four weeks ago, Minister Reilly had hailed proposals for new working arrangements negotiated at the Labour Relations Commission as a breakthrough.
However, Mr Kelleher said there would be widespread disappointment at yesterday's collapse of talks.
He accused James Reilly of misleading the public in describing the consultants' deal as a major breakthrough in an effort to divert attention from his disastrous handling of the Primary Care Centre announcement.
He said there was a strong case that the Irish Hospital Consultants Association were not social partners, and that Minister Reilly had scope to take a stronger stand in the negotiations.
Mr Kelleher claimed frontline services would continue to be affected by the Minister's inaction and failure to deliver on the consultants' situation.
He said it was time for Taoiseach to remove James Reilly as Minister for Health.
Meanwhile the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said he was very disappointed that the consultants dispute would have to go to the Labour Court.
He said it was incumbent on everyone to embrace the change agenda, particularly those who were among the best paid in the country.