The head of the HSE says he does not know why priest Leo Varadkar assumed that health staff celebrated Christmas and the new year.
"I'm not quite sure where he made the impression of Taoiseach," said HSE General Manager John Connaghan.
Perhaps the health authority needs to better explain the situation of the staff, he said yesterday at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Health Commission.
Mister. Connaghan said that acute hospitals and community services will work closely together to maintain a balance between demand and capacity between Christmas and the new year.
Consolidated measures would be provided to cope with the new wave and there will be "consolidated working arrangements" between family doctors, nursing homes and HSE.
Meanwhile, HSE Deputy Chief Operations Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Anne O'Connor, said the winter plan will run from December 1 until the end of March.
"We are also focusing on a four-week period – in the last two weeks of December and in the first two weeks of January – as part of the general winter plan," she said.
Ms. O'Connor said she intends to have more community services available during this period to put pressure on hospitals.
Managers discuss with staff about who would be available in the four week period and how they could be made differently.
"There is a very intense effort that begins to look at the whole set of available community support and acute services."
Ms. O'Connor said that she is working on the September plan and that she is at a stage where the plan is already in place.
"We do not expect the publication to begin implementing it," she said.
Part of the challenge is to release capacity before the end of December.
"If we clear that capacity too soon, we get back to filling very quickly. We have a lot of work to make sure we have a lot of support available to kick in December," she said.
Ms. O'Connor said they know they have a home care challenge, especially around Dublin, which affects acute hospitals.
Asked by Louise O'Reilly of Sinn Féin, when the plan was published, Ms. O'Connor said she could be signed "very quickly".
"The services will be ready, it's not the fact that we are starting to engage in services, we've been hiring services since September," she said.
Earlier, Mr. Connaghan said he is conducting a worldwide search for laboratories to help eliminate delays in CervicalCheck screening tests.
Approximately 80,000 smears have not yet been processed and women have waited five months for results.
Mister. Connaghan said he had obtained agreements so that CervicalCheck could continue and contracts be finalized with suppliers.
"The new model will eventually see a more balanced model of public and private service delivery," he said.
"We are also conducting a comprehensive global exercise exercise to provide additional capacity, taking into account the current requirements that lead to a prolonged reporting time for women."