Groups representing hospital patients and the disabled have expressed concern after a warning of funding cuts for five State-funded hospitals and agencies.

The Health Service Executive said it intends cutting the funding of those hospital and agencies that are not compliant with public sector pay policy.

The five hospitals and agencies are St James's Hospital, St Vincent's University Hospital, St John of God Hospital, Brothers of Charity Southern Services, and Brothers of Charity Services South East.

The HSE has stressed that patients should not be impacted by the cuts, however groups are concerned that the sick and vulnerable will suffer.

Down Syndrome Ireland has said that many of its clients use the services of the Brothers of Charity.

Chief Executive Pat Clarke said rules and regulations are there and he would expect that hospitals and agencies would comply.

The Irish Patients' Association's Stephen McMahon said he believes that it is a "nuclear option" and will hit patients.

Elsewhere, Minister for Social Protection Burton has said it was incumbent on the five organisations to go to the HSE and settle the matter. 

She said Government policy was quite clear and the issue should not be used to frighten people who are particularly vulnerable.