Nurses will have to provide extra services from July 11 when doctors are rotated between posts, a leading consultant has warned.
Dr John Barton, a consultant physician and cardiologist at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, said the pressure will come on nurses at smaller hospitals when the July changes will lead to a shortage of non-consultant hospital doctors.
"We are beginning to move within the system, for instance, to what we call the advance nurse practitioners and different grades of nurses that will be able to provide certain services that may have been provided by doctors previously, and they can do so in an excellent form," said Dr Barton.
"This is what’s going to have to happen in our health system."
Health Minister Dr James Reilly has already admitted that problems will arise in July but he added that efforts are being made to address the problem.
Minister Reilly has also conceded emergency departments will "struggle" to fill junior doctor posts.
Hospitals across Dublin and the rest of the country may also have to curtail services due to the shortage of doctors.
There are also concerns that closing smaller hospitals will lead to larger A&E units, which are already at breaking point, being swamped by patients.