Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has moved to deny reports that he had secured an extra €500m for the health budget, saying he has been reading figures in newspapers that he has never seen before.

Mr Varadkar said he was still in discussion with his Cabinet colleagues regarding the Budget and he hoped it would be resolved in the next few days.

The minister said that he has received the report of the expert panel on medical card eligibility and hoped to bring it to Cabinet in the next few weeks.

He said the report was clear that it would not be ethical or just to list illnesses to medical card eligibility.

However, Mr Varadkar said the report did not provide a solution and he wanted to devise a new system that would take into account the impact of medical conditions.

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive has said it has no knowledge of a "confidential internal memo" that allegedly urged employees to manipulate waiting lists to meet health service targets.

It follows a report in the Sunday Business Post yesterday that claimed to have uncovered a range of mechanisms used by the service to cosmetically reduce the waiting lists figures.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Tony O'Connell, National Director of Acute Services, said it was not HSE policy to encourage employees to massage waiting lists.

He said: "That's certainly not anything that I condone. I'm not aware of any memo which suggests that.

"And it certainly would be against our policy of treating patients in order, as well as giving some priority to patients who have high acuity and high risk conditions such as cancer."

Dr O'Connell said the current waiting lists were an accurate reflection of how long people are waiting to be seen and treated, apart from a few hundred patients who were seen in private clinics last year and are now returning to the public list.

Mr Varadkar said that the only waiting lists he is interested in are accurate lists, adding that lists which make the situation look better than it is are no good to him.

Professor John Crown, an independent senator and oncologist, has said that it is entirely plausible that the HSE would use "various tactics" to minimise the appearance of hospital waiting lists.

Also speaking on Morning Ireland, he said he knew of at least one incident last year of an internal memo sent to managers organising outpatient clinics that appeared to direct them to put the procedure in place of not putting people on waiting lists until they had received a firm appointment date, even though the application from their GP may have been received some months before.

Prof Crown said that because of the unprecedented long waiting lists in Ireland, he would not be surprised if the HSE was tempted to use "various subterfuges" in an attempt to make things appear better than they are.

He said he had heard of some practices where public patients were being referred to less experienced practitioners in private practice, and then possibly being referred back to a public hospital, where they ended up at the bottom of a waiting list.

Prof Crown said the way that we pay for the public health system actually incentivised waiting lists by encouraging hospitals to close wards, beds and operating theatres, such as in summer months, to stay within budget if there is an increased demand.

He said that in OECD countries those that have this sort of funding model "inevitably have the longest waiting lists, but ours are way off the top of the charts".