Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has claimed that serious institutional resistance, within both the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health, is threatening the implementation of Sláintecare.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil, Deputy Shortall said the Government has the plans to achieve universal healthcare, but there is a "lack of commitment and courage" from both Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, and the Cabinet.

She said the Government "is not interested in reform, only paying lip service to it."

Sláintecare promised sweeping changes with a single-tier health system, with access based on need, not the ability to pay.

The Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council is to write to Minister Donnelly asking that its term of office be extended to the end of this year.

Ms Shortall said that while the Social Democrats will support additional finances in Budget 2022 for the health service, she said her party was opposed to pumping large amounts of money "into a dysfunctional system."

In reply, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said he wanted to re-assure Deputy Shortall that the Government "... is absolutely committed to fundamental reform of the health service and Sláintecare."

He said there was "no resistance" in Government to Sláintecare, adding: "It's what the people want, and the Government is committed to doing it."

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Minister McGrath said recent resignations were "deeply disappointing" and "of course" the government would examine the reasons behind those departures.

SIAC chairperson Professor Tom Keane and Executive Director for the Sláintecare reform programme Laura Magahy both tendered their resignations earlier this month.

Minister McGrath said the Government had been responsible for a "record of amount of funding" into the healthcare system and this had led to a "step change" in improving things like capacity.

He said the Government will consider a request from the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council to extend its term of office, which is due to expire in the coming days.