HSE support staff belonging to SIPTU have called off their threatened strike due to start on Monday week after agreement was reached in a dispute over job evaluations, interns and arrangements in emergency departments.
Around 10,000 staff including healthcare assistants, porters, cleaners and catering staff had voted to take strike action, but it is understood that a deal was reached today which will avert the disruption.
It was due to begin on the same day that 35,000 nurses are commencing a nationwide work-to-rule, which is expected to result in procedures being cancelled, longer waiting lists, and more patients on trolleys.
The Health Service Executive is expected to begin notifying patients of cancellations of procedures and appointments early next week if the nurses' dispute is not resolved by then.
From Monday 7 March, nurses belonging to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will begin a work-to-rule in a row over staffing levels and incentives for recruitment and retention of nursing personnel.
The INMO has already acknowledged that the work-to-rule will result in a "contraction of activity", which will potentially mean fewer procedures, longer waiting lists and more patients on trolleys.
HSE management has said that it would cost €180m a year to fund the additional incentives to recruit and retain nurses but the INMO described that figure as a gross exaggeration.
At present there are no formal negotiations that could break the deadlock - though further meetings are expected to take place to discuss contingency arrangements.
Meanwhile, SIPTU said agreement for support staff had been reached in the dispute that centred on job evaluation, incremental credit for support staff interns and concessions for emergency department staff.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell, said: "We have made significant progress on the issue of job evaluation and this process will commence immediately.
"With regard to the issue of incremental credit for support staff interns it has been agreed that this matter will be considered in the context of the forthcoming public sector pay negotiations."
Mr Bell added that the remaining issue of concessions for emergency department workers will return to the Labour Court.
He said: "Disappointingly, we were unable to make sufficient progress in our negotiations to secure the concessions granted to nursing staff, assigned to emergency departments in acute hospitals throughout the state, in January 2015 were extended to all other health workers committed to working in the same tough environment.
"However, I believe that the decision to have this element of our dispute referred to the Labour Court for binding arbitration is the best way forward for all stakeholders, which includes the public who would have been unavoidably disrupted by the proposed strike action."
Minister for Health Simon Harris has welcomed the news that the industrial action by SIPTU support staff will not go ahead.
In a statement he said: he was pleased that the threat of action has been averted and he welcomed the understanding reached between the HSE and SIPTU.
"I believe that the best way to resolve issues is by engagement through industrial relations mechanisms and I am very glad to see that this process has led to the right outcome for staff and patients," he said.