THE appointment of a number of key medical specialists who are needed to reduce waiting lists in one of the country's main children's hospitals may have be put on hold as part of a bid to cut €2.8m in spending, it was confirmed yesterday.
Temple Street children's hospital in Dublin warned it is facing a series of "unpalatable cuts" and will have to find savings from a range of internal pay and pay-related areas.
A spokeswoman told the Irish Independent that "all vacant posts will be reviewed and re-prioritised as appropriate on the basis of risk and available funding.
"This may give rise to the deferment or ultimate non filling of certain posts. The number and type of deferrals of posts is still under consideration by the hospital's employment control group and executive."
The hospital has a long-standing vacancy for a urologist to look after children with conditions like spina bifida and and shortlisting for the post is currently taking place. It also has vacancies for an ear, nose and throat surgeon; a paediatric kidney specialist, and a plastic surgeon.
The lack of specialists means that children with a range of illnesses can face long delays on waiting lists and are not seen as quickly as they should be.
The spokeswoman said that the initial Temple Street funding allocation for 2014 was €77.9 m and while this represents a funding reduction of €2.6m "the financial challenge facing the Hospital is significantly greater than this amount".
She said this is due to a range of factors, including, a reduction in income from private insurers, and increases in pay and non-pay related expenditure.
A spokesman for the National Children's Hospital in Tallaght said it is also having to impose a savings plan but said the overall figure is still being finalised.
Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin declined to comment on its financial situation.