Minister for Health James Reilly is to set up a task force to determine the staffing and skill mix needs for nursing here.

The Secretary General of the Department of Health, Ambrose McLoughlin, told the annual conference of the Irish Nurses & Midwives' Organisation today that the task force will look at staffing ranges, rather than staff-patient ratios.

The task force will firstly look at staffing in medical and surgical care in adult hospitals and will ensure that patient safety is the central focus.

At its conference in Kilkenny, the INMO has called for clear nurse and midwifery staff-patient ratios.

The task force will be chaired by the Chief Nursing Officer.

Mr McLoughlin also told the conference that by the last Friday in April, there were 2,113 fewer patients waiting on trolleys this year, compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said the Minister for Health has commissioned 48 reports since he came to office at a total cost to the taxpayer of more than €1.7m.

Half of these are completed but have not yet been published, he said.

The details were provided in a written response to a parliamentary question