Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has promised to scrap the 50c prescription charge, possibly later this month.

In his first television interview, the Minister said he would discuss the matter with his health officials.

Dr Reilly said the prescription charge was not a wise policy as it could prevent people from being able to get their medicines.

The Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament has welcomed Minister Reilly's announcement.

In a statement, it said it agreed with him that the 50c prescription charge may be preventing many medical card holders from getting essential medication.

Its spokesperson, Máiréad Hayes, said she was looking forward to genuine engagement with the new minister on many critical health issues of concern to older people and their families.

She said the parliament wished him well in his appointment, while putting him on notice that it would be monitoring closely all his policies and actions over the coming months.

Minister Reilly also said in his RTÉ interview that there is no quick fix solution to emergency department overcrowding.

He said that it will take over a year to deal with the issue but there were some short-term measures planned to try and deal with surges in activity.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said 446 patients were waiting for admission in emergency departments around the country today.