PLANNING permission for the new children's hospital is not expected before the end of next year.
Health Minister James Reilly (right) said he hopes to have a design team in place within six months and then to secure the green light from planners for the build by December 2014.
The paediatric facility will be built on St James's Hospital in Dublin. It is expected to cost more than €484m and open as late as spring 2018.
"Work on developing a detailed project timeline is continuing under a transitional board recognising the urgency and priority attached to the project, as well as its scale and complexity," Dr Reilly said.
"I will also establish a children's hospital group comprising the three existing children's hospitals. This is an important step in moving towards the transition of the three hospitals to a single entity."
The 6.3-hectare development on the south city hospital campus will be funded in part with €200m National Lottery money.
The St James's facility will merge the three children's hospitals – Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght.
Meanwhile, almost 50 hospitals will be headed by six independent groups under plans to reform the State's acute hospital system, Dr Reilly said. He claimed the plan will modernise the health system and deliver safe and high quality care for patients across the country.