A community on a remote island has hit out at the HSE after being left without a nurse and medical assistance since last September.
The problem arose after Inishturk's nurse retired following 30 years of service. While someone was appointed to the position in November, they have still not taken up the post, leaving the Co Mayo island with no back-up.
Since September, the island has only had a visit from a locum nurse on three occasions.
Local woman Bríd Heanue-Whelan is five months pregnant.
"All we want is a locum nurse in place until the position is filled. At the moment we have absolutely no cover," she said.
Locals were told that if a pregnant woman or anyone needing persistent care was living on the island they would provide a locum, but that has not happened.
"Nobody can predict when anybody is going to have a fall or get sick. Everybody deserves healthcare. I have two young boys and they were sick before Christmas. I had no way of getting antibiotics for either kid unless I went to the mainland to get it," said Ms Heanue-Whelan.
Mary Heanue, a community worker on Inishturk, said locals had repeatedly voiced their concerns to the HSE, but to no avail.
"We've been told they are waiting on clearance of paperwork. But even this week they couldn't give me a date as to when this person was coming.
"We've been left in the middle of winter with no medical care. We have a lot of elderly people and children who have been fighting colds and flu," she said.
A spokesperson for the HSE said a nurse had been recruited and was "currently undergoing pre-employment process prior to agreeing a start date".
"The position becoming vacant was due to retirement and there is no service/budget reduction element to this issue," the spokesperson said, as there had been a "considerable challenge".