Conciliation talks aimed a brokering a settlement in the nurses' dispute have so far failed to yield an agreement. It is understood the talks are at a crucial stage, as complex details are being hammered out.

Hospitals have again been cancelling admissions today amid talks between nurses and health employers aimed at ending the work-to-rule.

Earlier, nursing unions called for a full review of the use of accident and emergency units because of a fall off in activity this weekend. SIPTU's National Nursing official, Oliver Mc Donagh, said the fact that people could stay away from Accident and Emergency Units raised the need to review the use of A and E facilities.

In a separate development, a special forum to identify urgent measures to improve the country's Accident and Emergency services will begin tomorrow.

Participants in the forum, which will meet in the Burlington Hotel for a special one-day session, will hear addresses from hospital managers, consultants, nurses, patients and experts on the bed capacity problem. Micheal Martin, the Minister for Health and Children, will give the opening address, while the afternoon session will be closed.

Meanwhile, the Western Health Board has told RTÉ News that 80 planned operations have been cancelled at University College Hospital in Galway as a result of the nurses' dispute. However, hospital staff were able to carry out surgery on 25 patients due for elective surgery, whose cases were deemed urgent. In addition, emergency operations are being carried out by the hospital's surgical team.

A Western Health Board spokeswoman said that the four hospitals in the region have not experienced any major difficulties so far, and were coping with the impact of the dispute.