The Government could face a no-confidence motion in Minister for Health Simon Harris in the last week of January or the first week of February after an opposition TD said he will force the Dáil vote.

Rural Independent TD for Cork South West Michael Collins said he wants to table the motion during his group's Dáil speaking time at the end of the month in a move that could potentially cause a snap general election.

Mr Collins said he and Rural Independents colleague Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath met in Leinster House yesterday to discuss seeking the vote.

Mr Collins said while he has yet to discuss the matter in detail with all members of the seven-strong Rural Independents, the convention within the group is to allow members to use their speaking time to push issues they feel strongly on.

The other members of the Rural Independents are Kerry TDs Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, Galway West TD Noel Grealish, Tipperary TD Michael Lowry and Clare TD Dr Michael Harty.

A meeting of the group is expected to take place when the Dáil returns next week, with Mr Collins saying he wants the no-confidence motion ratified at the meeting in time for a Dáil vote in the final week of January or first week of February.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Collins said he believes that there is support for the motion and should it come before the Dáil, it will be carried.

Mr Collins said there is an "unprecedented crisis" in the health care system.

He agreed that the motion would not get anyone off a trolley, but said that "someone must be held accountable".

He said that the number of people consistently on hospital trolleys, lengthy hospital waiting lists and, what he said is the need to bus hundreds of patients in his constituency waiting for cataract or hip treatment to Belfast, is no longer acceptable.

Fellow Independent TDs Mr McGrath and Michael Healy-Rae, meanwhile, speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, both said they also have no confidence in Mr Harris.

Mr Healy-Rae said the health service is "in a shambles" and Mr Harris should be ashamed of his tenure.

While a no-confidence motion in Minister Harris has been mooted since early December, its confirmation will put Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin under further pressure during their general election date meeting in Dublin this evening.

This is because a vote will force Fianna Fáil to decide whether it wants to continue to abstain on no-confidence motions in line with the confidence and supply deal, or to vote with the Government.

On Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said he needs Mr Martin to confirm his party will vote with the Government on confidence votes if an April general election date can be agreed.

He said this is because of the razor tight Dáil numbers and the fact Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow/Kilkenny John McGuinness has said he will vote against the Government instead of abstaining - potentially causing the Government to collapse.

On Tuesday, Mr Martin said there is "no possibility at all" of his party voting with the Government and that it will only continue to abstain.

Confirmation that Mr Collins is seeking a Rural Independents no-confidence motion in Minister Harris by the last week of January or first week of February will gain further significance by the fact other parties appear lukewarm on tabling their own no confidence motions.

Senior Labour sources said that while they have made no decision, the party's Dáil speaking time is in the second half of February which - due to the White House St Patrick's Day visit and the fact an April general election could be called by mid-March - may make a motion irrelevant.

Similarly, senior Sinn Féin sources said while they have made no firm decision, they may use their Dáil time to table legislation key to their TDs individual general election campaigns.