A meeting between members of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council (SIAC) and the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has been postponed until tomorrow.

In an email to the members of the council from the Department of Health, members were informed that the minister had to deal with an urgent matter this evening.

The SIAC is due to discuss the reform programme and recent high-profile resignations when it meets Minister Donnelly.

Last week, Laura Magahy, the reform programme Executive Director and Professor Tom Keane, chairperson of the Council resigned at the same time.

In an email to members of the council, Prof Keane said he had resigned as the requirements for implementing the reform programme were seriously lacking.

Earlier this week, Mr Donnelly met Ms Magahy to discuss her decision to resign.

The Minister said that the Government and the HSE are fully committed to the regionalisation of health services as part of the Sláintecare reforms, however he said that the pandemic was not the time to reorganise the health service.

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, Mr Donnelly said he believed Ms Magahy and Prof Keane resigned because they were frustrated at the pace of reform.

He said he believed it was the right decision not to undertake a wholesale reorganisation of the health service during the pandemic, but the Government is moving ahead with regionalisation.

He said that the Department of Health is "thinking through" replacements for those who have resigned from their posts.

SIAC members have submitted a list of questions to Mr Donnelly and among the issues expected to be raised by members is why the reform programme is not based in the Department of the Taoiseach.

They also want to see the plan for the six mostly autonomous Regional Health Authorities, advanced.

Members are unhappy that Ms Magahy was not the lead negotiator for ongoing talks with hospital consultants on a new Sláintecare public-only contract.

SIAC members will also want to hear what plans are in pace to fill the posts left vacant by the resignations, so that the reform porgramme does not stall.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has expressed regret over the resignations of Prof Keane and Ms Magahy.

Speaking in the Dáil he said the Taoiseach would meet both Prof Keane and Ms Magahy.

Mr Varadkar denied claims by Independent TD Joan Collins, who said there were "serious concerns" about progress of the project.

Mr Varadkar said suggestions that there had not been health reforms were "untrue and unfair".

Additional reporting David Murphy