Talks between HSE management and representative bodies for hospital consultants continued throughout the day at the Labour Relations Commission.

The talks aim to resolve disagreement over productivity and reforms.

This evening sources reported some progress had been made on a number of issues including rostering and reporting relationships to Clinical Directors in hospitals.

However, the sources also warned that key sticking points remained to be resolved, including the reform of so-called historic rest days, and the establishment of a new lower-paid entry grade for consultants.

The Government set a deadline of this evening to resolve the issues.

If agreement is not reached, it is unclear whether the outstanding issues will be referred to the Labour Court in accordance with the procedures of the Croke Park Agreement.

That process would result in a determination that would be binding on both parties.

However, last Thursday the Irish Hospital Consultants Association described the LRC talks as non-binding.

It is understood that if the consultants do not go to the Labour Court, the Government is likely to seek a ruling from the Croke Park Implementation Body as to whether the consultants are still covered by the protection from pay cuts in the agreement.

If the Implementation Body found that the consultants are outside the agreement, the Government could bring in legislation to cut their pay.

However, that would be expected to trigger court action by consultants.