The imposition of cutbacks by the Health Service Executive (HSE) is expected to dominate the three-day-long annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), which is held in Killarney, Co Kerry.
More than 200 motions will be debated, including a call for 1200 more hospital beds to be put in place.
Delegates will of course also address the delay in agreeing new contracts for hospital consultants, but the IMO says that no document has been finalised for consultants to ballot on.
There is growing unrest over plans by the HSE to save € 300 million this year, despite constant gaps in the service and ever longer waiting lists for out-patients. And there are fears that severe cuts will be implemented as the year progresses, since the HSE gives hospitals a fixed budget instead of letting the money follow the patient, as it is the practice in most other countries. This could lead to the bizarre situation that a hospital might run out of money by - let's say - November, and then be no longer able to function or accept any new patients until January.
Doctors will also have an opportunity to let the Minister for Health know of their frustration over service cutbacks, as Mary Harney will attend the conference on Saturday evening.
It might not be a complete coincidence that Ms. Harney is away from Dublin on Saturday, as in the afternoon a demonstration against her - and for a decent health service - will take place in the capital, leaving Parnell Square at 3 p.m. for Molesworth Street. (For details see my entry from yesterday)
The Emerald Islander