Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid has said that after the decision to postpone non-Covid care at the end of March, there was a near standstill in activity.
He told the Oireachtas Health Committee that while activity has resumed "there has been enduring consequences" for the health services
Mr Reid said services will continue to be delivered within a Covid-19 environment until after a vaccine or cure.
He told the committee that with the allocation of €600m for the HSE, the winter plan "aims to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for the anticipated seasonal pressures, which this year will be more challenging than ever".
The HSE chief said the executive has been entrusted with the biggest allocation ever made for a winter plan and the money will be invested in the areas that will have the biggest impact.
Mr Reid said while delivering integrated services has been a challenge, "one of the few positives to emerge from the pandemic is our capacity to operate as a whole system".
He said the key priorities in the winter plan include supporting nursing homes, strengthening public health capacity and minimising the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services such as screening.
He also said that "the funding will only get us so far" and "our success is also heavily predicated on the public continuing to take the necessary precautions as part of the public health advice" and continuing with the downward trend of cases of the virus.
Mr Reid said along with additional bed capacity, an arrangement with private hospitals will allow the HSE to augment its existing approaches to Covid and non-Covid pathways, particularly in the event of a surge in hospitalisations.
He said waiting lists have stabilised but at a much higher level and that extra resources for the National Treatment Purchase Fund will help to tackle those lists.
Mr Reid also said "steady progress is being made in the resumption of elective activity" and "the latest data shows we are almost in an equivalent position to the corresponding period in 2019."