Controversy dogged Tallaght from start
Published 17/03/2010 | 05:00
WHEN the shiny new €120m Tallaght Hospital eventually opened its doors to its first patients in June 1998 it had already been the subject of intense controversy over how it would be run.
At stake was its ethos and a vigorous bid by the Protestant community to ensure that it would be guided by pluralist principles, which accommode minority beliefs and not just those held by the Catholic Church.
Tallaght Hospital was established through the merging of the Adelaide Hospital -- the last Protestant-run hospital in the country -- the Meath Hospital and the National Children's Hospital.
At the forefront of the intense battle was the Adelaide Hospital Society, a voluntary charity supporting Protestant participation in the health services.
The former chairman of the society, Professor Ian Graham, a cardiologist in Tallaght who sits on the current board, warned in 1998 that those involved in the Northern peace process would be watching developments to see whether the new institution would include the ethical traditions of the Adelaide Hospital. The intense debate led to the old charter of the Adelaide becoming the governing instrument for the new hospital and it was incorporated into the new charter, a legal document.
The charter sets out the obligation to provide "such medical and surgical procedures as may be lawfully provided in the State".
It set out the privacy of the relationship between doctor and patients as well as the right of staff to follow their conscience.
Central to the new structure was the size and make up of the board, which allowed the Adelaide Society to nominate six of its 22 members.
The Meath Foundation was given equal membership.
The hospital's first chief executive, Dublin-born David McCutcheon who returned from a similar post in Canada to take up the job, arrived in the warm glow of positive publicity. But he became disillusioned with the funding and resigned.
Tallaght Hospital is now in desperate need of a new direction.
It has lost its breast cancer service and will also have to suffer the loss of the National Chlidren's Hospital, leaving it instead as a children's emergency department.