Tomorrow's strike by hospital support staff has been called off to allow for further talks.

SIPTU representatives confirmed this evening that their 24-hour workplace stoppage planned for tomorrow was being deferred pending the outcome of emergency talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The implementation of a job evaluation scheme is at the centre of the dispute.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser Paul Bell said: "The strike action scheduled for tomorrow is now deferred at the request of the Workplace Relations Commission. Discussions on the implementation of the job evaluation scheme for SIPTU members in the health service will commence tomorrow."

However, Mr Bell also said that preparations for strike action next Tuesday 25 June and Wednesday 26 June, will continue.

The Health Service Executive has welcomed the deferral of tomorrow's planned industrial action which was due to affect 38 hospital sites and healthcare facilities around the country.

In a statement this evening, the HSE said hospitals will attempt, where possible, to reinstate services and appointments that were cancelled ahead of tomorrow’s planned strike.

It said patients will be contacted directly if their appointments and procedures can proceed tomorrow.

The HSE confirmed that community services will operate a full service tomorrow.

Earlier, the HSE warned that the planned strikes could have a lasting cumulative impact on patient waiting lists.

HSE Deputy Director General of Operations Anne O'Connor said she was very concerned about the fact that SIPTU had scheduled five further strike days if this dispute were not resolved.

Ms O'Connor also noted that patient safety was a priority which was why they cancelled so many appointments - but that affected patients would be notified by their individual hospital.

She said management teams in local areas were working closely with SIPTU to reduce the potential impact of strike action, through derogations for essential services.

She said they were obliged to cancel any elective procedure that require instruments or scopes as there would be no one to sterilise them. 

Ms O'Connor also confirmed that the HSE received no 2019 funding allocation from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to enable it to pay the job evaluation award to health support staff - but said it was working with other parties to try to resolve the matter. 

The HSE said some elective inpatient procedures would be deferred and there would be a significant cancellation of scope procedures.

Ms O'Connor said hospitals had been contacting patients since the beginning of this week to let them know if their procedure had been cancelled, and that if somebody did not receive a phone call then they were not affected.

SIPTU and HSE management, meanwhile, were engaging at local level to prepare contingency arrangements to minimise disruption.

Govt does not appreciate 'terrible' impact of strike - Martin

Earlier, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin said the Government did not appreciate the "terrible" impact the planned strike action would have on health services.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said the workers were the "cogs in the wheel" of the health service and it cannot operate without them.

He said the Taoiseach had attacked his party for raising the issue yesterday and he accused the Taoiseach of being "dismissive" when it comes to public workers.

In response, Leo Varadkar said all strikes were sorted out "sooner or later" and he would rather it would be sorted out sooner.

Additional reporting Aisling Kenny, Paul Cunningham