HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly claimed yesterday there would be a service "of some sort" at hospitals where A&Es are under immediate threat.
The minister conceded more than half the 475 junior doctor posts across the country are unlikely to be filled by July 11 -- the date when doctors move on to new jobs as part of their training.
There are still 254 vacancies for junior hospital doctors nationally, with just 221 posts filled.
Dr Reilly also admitted Roscommon County Hospital would not have a fully-fledged A&E service 24 hours a day.
His comments came as the patient safety body, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), said yesterday it was concerned the emergency department in Tallaght Hospital Dublin is not effectively managing the risks to patients needing acute admission.
Tallaght Hospital's A&E was also recently described as a "very dangerous" place by a coroner.
Publishing its terms of reference for an inquiry into safety standards in the hospital's emergency department, it said it may make national recommendations covering other hospitals.
This move is likely to exert even more pressure on smaller hospitals to close or reduce the opening hours at A&Es.
Dr Reilly, who was in Galway, said Roscommon hospital would have an "urgent care centre", manned from 8am to 8pm by hospital doctors and from 8pm to 8am by local GPs.
The minister said the emergency department at the hospital was not safe and it would be irresponsible of him to allow it to remain that way.
He conceded smaller hospitals would be most affected by the shortage of junior doctors but could not say which would suffer the worst impact until the changeover on Monday week.
But the minister's comments cut little ice in Roscommon last night as hundreds of people gathered at a protest meeting over the loss of 24-hour emergency cover, accusing the Government of broken promises.
Dr Reilly said the twin problems of a financial crisis and a shortage of non-consultant hospital doctors had created difficulties for everyone.
Up to 4,000 doctors -- based in India and Pakistan --have been interviewed by the HSE and around 400 have expressed an interest in coming to work here.
Dr Reilly confirmed that special legislation would go through the Dail next week to allow for the two-year temporary registration of the new doctors.