Patients on waiting lists will get private treatment
Hundreds of surgical operations and specialist appointments will be outsourced to private health providers amid spiralling waiting lists.
Some patients on public waiting lists may even be sent abroad, as hospitals battle to deal with the worrying backlog.
Beaumont, Connolly and Drogheda hospitals - which have suffered some of the worst trolley gridlock in emergency departments since the beginning of the year - have issued a tender for the work, the Irish Independent has learned.
Other hospitals that are part of the Royal College of Surgeons Hospital of Ireland (RCSI) Group include Cavan and the Rotunda. Louth County and Monaghan are also likely to be involved in the outsourcing.
It comes against a big spike in waiting lists nationally as a result of surgery cancellations - as patients admitted through emergency departments are given priority.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar admitted the outsourcing of some waiting list work was needed to bring down delays, and meet targets to have nobody waiting longer than 18 months for their surgery or outpatient appointment by the end of June.
"It will be expensive but it needs to be done," Mr Varadkar said.