Updated: 28/08/12 : 07:42:05Printable Version
Sinn Féin has described as "disgraceful" the HSE's decision to close 50 beds in hospitals in the North East.
The party's health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said bed closures were a direct result of health cuts imposed in last year's budget.
Twenty-four beds will go in the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, while 10 will shut in Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda will also be hit with the temporary closure of 16 beds.
In a further move to cut costs, the use of agency staff will be stopped from December 1.
SIPTU organiser Paul Bell, says the reliance on agency staff means hospitals in the North East cannot operate within budget: "What's most disappointing about this is the position the HSE have taken. They have been warned in the last 12 months about the overreliance on agency staff and contractors.
"Unfortunately, in order to address the deficit, they've decided to close beds."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that one firm supplying agency staff to the HSE was paid almost €30m last year.
The Irish Examiner reports that CPL earned €29.6m from the HSE - nearly double the amount it got in 2010.
Agency costs rose by 15% percent last year to €176m.