Medical experts have warned of the impact of low morale and stress among doctors on patient care.

The issue was raised at a conference at the Royal College of Physicians where concerns were aired about the strains being experienced by healthcare professionals

It comes as junior doctors prepare to ballot next week on new proposals in a dispute over working hours.

Today's event was part of the four-day St Luke's Symposium, at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health today reiterated the target figure for cuts and savings for next year was €666m.

It acknowledged that the Health Service Executive had identified pressures that could increase that figure.

It follows comments by the HSE Director General Tony O'Brien at an Oireachtas Health Committee meeting this week, that the swing required for potential cuts was broadly equivalent to €1bn.

Hospitals will also face financial sanctions if they do not stick to rules on working hours for non consultant hospital doctors.

This follows proposals agreed at the Labour Relations Commission this week.

The Irish Medical Organisation begins a ballot of its members on those proposals next week.