In 1997, the Department signalled that the hospital's priority list of 16 consultant posts would be given sympathetic consideration on a phased basis from 1998 to 2000. This was at a time when it was thought that the new hospital would open in Tallaght in January 1998 rather than June 1998. In the event, the schedule set out by the hospital in June 1997 envisaged all posts being filled by the end of 1999.
Four of the 16 posts have been approved by the Department – three in June 1997 – consultant gastroenterologist, consultant vascular surgeon and consultant physician with a special interest in respiratory medicine, and one in December 1997, consultant histopathologist. Funding was made available for these posts in the context of the 1998 and 1999 allocations.
It should be noted that the post of consultant vascular surgeon has not yet been approved for filling by Comhairle na nOspidéal as the Department's sanction was subject to agreement being reached by the hospital and St. James's Hospital on the provision of vascular surgery services at both hospitals. This agreement is still outstanding.
In line with the Deloitte & Touche report into the hospital, which has been accepted by the board of management of the hospital, it is not acceptable for the board to continue to seek Exchequer funding or to continue to maintain that it must be made available to develop the hospital until such time as it has demonstrated a capacity to create an effective management system for the present profile of the hospital, and operate at net expenditure levels which are accepted as appropriate for the size, nature and circumstances of the hospital, from its new location in Tallaght., no further development can take place at the hospital until the current difficulties are resolved.
However, on 18 December last I reached agreement with the hospital on a way forward. The implementation of the Deloitte & Touche report will now commence at the hospital and completion of this process will allow for the resumption of the planned phased development of services at the hospital.