The then Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Brian Cowen, established the Medical Manpower Forum in May 1998. The forum has met on 12 occasions. The forum has been endeavouring to reach a consensus on the issues involved. The main service, training, research and career issues and the principles and approaches to be adopted have, to a large measure, been agreed by the Medical Manpower Forum. It has also been agreed that the introduction of these changes should coincide with an extension of the core hospital working day. This is necessary if one of the key principles of the forum is to be achieved, that is, the need to provide the highest quality of medical care for those who require the services of hospitals. Final discussions on the forum's first report have yet to be completed. While the forum has not met in formal plenary session since 24 February 2000, outstanding issues have been addressed in the meantime on a bilateral basis with some of the key groups represented at the forum. Based on these discussions I am confident that we can reach an early resolution of remaining issues and reconvene the forum shortly to finalise and formally adopt its report.