Minister for Health James Reilly says the Government has to go ahead with implementing new work practices for consultants from 5 November, despite no agreement with consultants to do so.

Speaking at the Irish Hospital Consultants Association conference in Galway, the minister said the public demanded and expected this change.

Mr Reilly said most consultants he had spoken to have no issue with the Labour Relations Commission's proposed work practice changes.

He acknowledged that the decision to cut the pay of future consultants by 30% was causing concerns regarding recruitment but insisted this was a separate issue.

Meanwhile, the IHCA says consultants will individually decide if they can accept proposed changes to their contract terms.

The association will not be entering into a collective agreement on the proposals, but will put the proposals to each individual member for their views.

The HSE said previously it had expected the IHCA and the Irish Medical Organisation to have formally responded to the LRC proposals by 1 October but this had not happened.

Following the LRC talks, Mr Reilly said the agreement could save around €200m.

The HSE has invited the two unions to a meeting next week to try and resolve the impasse.

The new practices would see some consultants being rostered on duty, any five out of seven days and working 8am to 8pm.

They would also be answerable to a clinical director.