SEVERE A&E overcrowding may be eased from next week as €3m is released to provide more nursing home places and home care packages.
The aim is to transfer some of the 850 patients who are in acute hospital beds, who no longer need to be there, said Junior Health Mnister Kathleen Lynch.
"It will be clearly directed at the delayed discharges," she added. "Some people need enhanced home care packages, others home help and others long-stay care."
However, nurses warned that the A&E overcrowding was getting worse and said the numbers of patients on hospital trolleys in October rose by 34pc compared to the same month last year. The HSE service plan will not address this kind of overcrowding.
While the HSE plans to employ more nurses directly rather than hire them through an agency it would not lead to a rise in numbers, said Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
He said that the background to the plan, which cannot be ignored, was that there were 7,000 people on trolleys during the month of October.
There were more than 2,000 acute and continuing care beds closed across the country and there were 5,000 fewer nurses, working in the system, compared to 2009.
"This service plan should ensure the health service does not suffer any further contraction.
However, the plan, and the budget allocated, failed to recognise, let alone address, the critical state that many areas of our health service were now in, leading to the compromising of patient care on a daily basis.
"The INMO believes that in order to address six years of unmanaged contraction, of our health service, the Government must acknowledge, without further delay, the need for emergency funding.
"This must be targeted at overcrowded emergency departments, the opening of closed beds and the further enhancement of community nursing and support structures." Maintaining existing services, after a year in which the HSE's own internal reports said the health system was doing less with less, was simply not good enough.
PHELIM Quinn, who was involved in overseeing major investigations into patient safety, has been appointed the chief executive of the Health Information and Quality Authority, the watchdog body for safety standards and quality in the health service.