Minister for Health James Reilly has warned hospital consultants that he is losing patience with the behaviour of one of their organisations in negotiations on a new contract.

Mr Reilly insisted that the issue of the cost of consultant care would be tackled by the Government in both the public and private sectors.

He said the Croke Park Agreement had not delivered the kind of savings that were needed.

He accused one of the organisations of dragging its heels and warned this behaviour would not be tolerated.

Mr Reilly said he was losing patience “big time” with that body, believed to be the Irish Hospital Consultants' Association , claiming they did not seem to want to cooperate at the Labour Relations Commission.

He said if the organisation failed to turn up again he had other options which he would exercise.

The minister also acknowledged shortcomings in his presentation last week of proposed cuts in health services.

He said he intended now to communicate very clearly where the cuts would fall.

Mr Reilly said he had failed to communicate in particular to the disabled and that he deeply regretted that this had led to demonstrators feeling they had to protest through the night outside Government Buildings last week.

He said he did not want a repeat of that, insisting that his goal remained putting the patient first.