This is the Department of Health's statement in full:
"The Department’s offer of an independent conciliation process on this dispute stands.
"As we have been saying for some time, we simply don't have the money or authority to resolve this impasse, and we strongly believe that patients should not be the ones to suffer because of that.
"The serious disruption to services this week is extremely distressing.
"For the reasons stated, avoiding this disruption is out of our hands.
"Like our Trust colleagues we would still wish to apologise to everyone affected.
"These decisions have regrettably been taken by Trusts on strictly operational grounds due to the level of disruption planned."