Minister for Health James Reilly has said the €700m worth of savings that will be required in next year’s health budget may not be achievable without a renegotiation of the Croke Park Agreement.

Mr Reilly said that 70% of his budget goes on pay and that savings in the other 30% had been exhausted.

He said pay is an issue and he wants to deal with the cost of absenteeism and sick pay, where rates in some areas were less than 2% but in other areas four to five times that figure.

Meanwhile, the Carers Association acting CEO John Dunne said the €130m in cuts announced yesterday by the Health Service Executive was a failure of Government strategy.

He said the cuts to home-help and homecare completely undermined the rationale of caring for older people at home, and would increase pressure on the entire system.

"It's going to put pressure on the members of the family who are actually looking after somebody who's ill at home," he said.

"It's also obviously going to lead to earlier admissions to nursing homes as people at home, with reduced supports, are not going to be able to cope."

The HSE today said that proposed cuts to home-help and homecare packages will be reviewed on a "one-on-one" basis, and each case will be looked at individually.

Laverne McGuinness, National Director of Integrated Services with the HSE, said those most in need would have continuity of their homecare package and other cases would be reviewed.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms McGuinness said home-help hours are reviewed on an ongoing basis and each HSE region will now investigate the amount of home-help hours they allocate.

She said the decision to cut €26m from home-help and homecare packages was a joint one between the HSE and the Department of Health.

She said the number of home-help hours was being reduced by 600,000, but there would still be 10.1m home-help hours available to those caring for the sick, elderly and disabled at home.

Staff shortages fears at Sligo General Hospital

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said that it is seriously concerned at staffing levels at Sligo General Hospital.

INMO Industrial Relations Officer for the area, Maura Hickey said:"It was obvious that nursing staff were working so short and facing unmanageable workloads, without the time to ensure all patient care plans were fully implemented or the time to consult with each other on clinical matters."

The union said medical wards are particularly affected by the current situation, which is resulting in increased risk to patients and staff alike.