The Minister for Health has said while some emergency departments are bedlam, industrial action will not help.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Leo Varadkar said health service employers are available for talks and there is a deal that can be done.

However, Mr Varadkar said that due to the Lansdowne Road Agreement it is not within his power to offer pay increases to staff.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in the wake of last night's announcement that emergency department nurses are to go on strike from Tuesday 15 December due to overcrowding and other issues.

The minister said a deal can be done around incentives for new staff, health and safety for existing stay and around patient safety.

He said there are patients on trolleys because they are waiting to get to a ward, or are waiting to be discharged, but he acknowledged that working conditions in many emergency departments are poor. 

He said the solution to overcrowding is not additional staff in emergency departments, but more staff in the community, more staff on wards and more staff in the medical assessment units. 

He said that figures on trolleys are down and that everyone accepts that the situation has stabilised. 

Earlier, the National Director of Human Resources at the HSE has said she is disappointed to hear comments from the INMO that the HSE is not committed to recruiting nurses and improving working conditions for them.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Rosarii Mannion said the HSE has been engaged in intensive talks with the INMO.

She said the INMO had eight key issues it wanted to be dealt with and progress has been made in seven of those issues.

However, Ms Mannion said it is not within the remit of the HSE to make promises on public pay.

Ms Mannion said it is not acceptable to have patients on trolleys, but said all indications are that the HSE are moving in the right direction.

She said they had secured an incentivised package for nurses for the first time, and while it has not yielded the return they would have expected, they remain hopeful.

However, she added that this year was the first time they had received an increase in their budget and the HSE has many pressure points across the health service it has to deal with.

Meanwhile, the INMO Deputy General Secretary said there will be contact between the INMO and the HSE before the strike takes place to put a contingency plan in place.

Speaking on the same programme, Dave Hughes said private hospitals such as the Mater are offering attractive packages to Irish nurses and the HSE are not competing.

Mr Hughes said nurses are being also being successfully recruited to the UK and while the HSE has attempted to lure nurses home, it has not been successful.

He also added that emergency departments are bedlam and are unsafe for nurses and patients.