The State's industrial relations machinery must be used to the optimum to end the medical scientists' strike, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said earlier this afternoon.

Speaking during Leaders Questions', Mr Martin said there has been significant informal contact in recent days and it was now a matter of getting all sides into either the Labour Court or the WRC.

He said the "full arm" of Government would then be involved to "resolve this issue once and for all".

His comments came early this afternoon and medical scientists' have since called off their strike action for tomorrow to attend talks at the Labour Court.

Health service estimates suggest that around 2,800 planned procedures will have been cancelled today around the country, due to the strike by medical scientists over long-standing pay and career development issues.

It follows a one-day work stoppage last week.

In addition, around 14,000 outpatient appointments are expected to have been significantly affected. Also, many of the 14,000 in-patients will not have routine blood tests performed and tests to enable patients to be discharged from hospital will not be available.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty said medical scientists were on the picket line because of unfair pay and a basic lack of respect for the crucial role they play in the health service.

He called for fresh talks which must include the Department of Public Expenditure.

The Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson said up to 30,000 medical appointments and procedures have been cancelled, and successive governments have allowed this issue to fester for two decades.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy called for the Government to ensure there will not be a further three days of industrial action by medical scientists next week.

She said the dispute was "completely disabling the health service and is having serious consequences right across the country".

She added: "Patient safety is being put at risk."

Ms Murphy called for a formal invitation to bring the HSE and the medical scientists into talks.

In response, Mr Martin said before a formal invitation is issued there needed to be certainty that it would be accepted.

He acknowledged that there was "disruption" and added "it is having an impact".

He added any potential resolution "could have implications" and "people need to be fully aware of that".

Labour TD Ged Nash said the Taoiseach should stop patronising the striking medical scientists and take action instead.

He suggested the problem lay at the door of the Department of Public Expenditure, and he called on the Taoiseach to hold a meeting with ministers Michael McGrath and Stephen Donnelly to sort it.

He said Labour fully supported the strike action this week.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said it is "ludicrous" that medical scientists are on strike for two days this week given their pay claim is "modest". He said his group's TDs were on the picket today to support the strikers and will have a Dáil motion tomorrow.