THE board of the scandal-hit Tallaght Hospital has been dramatically axed as part of radical new reform plans.
Health Minister James Reilly effectively took a hatchet to the current 23-member board following intense discussions with the HSE over the hospital's future.
A smaller nine-member interim board will now be put in place at the hospital -- which has been marred by a series of controversies in recent months.
And the hospital will in the future be governed by legislation, rather than its current 'charter'.
The new board will face the mammoth challenge of dealing with the hospital's €11.2m debts.
And Dr Reilly today revealed that the taxpayer would pay for the enormous debts run up by the hospital.
The Irish Patients' Association today warned that the entire future of the hospital remains in doubt, unless it receives significant additional funding.
IPA chairman Stephen McMahon said he believed the new structure would make the running of the hospital "more efficient".
"The hospital, like the HSE, has substantial financial difficulties. The local Tallaght Hospital Action group were protesting during the summer when there was announcements that there would be very large cuts in the hospital's budget next year which really would make the system unworkable. Something dramatically has to happen."
He added: "The public is funding the hospital, it's all about patient-centred health care and the patient is the key person. There was some concern among members that the pace of the reform wasn't fast enough to deliver the type of reform that is needed in the future."
The Herald can reveal today that almost three quarters of the hospital's HSE budget was spent on wages last year, as dozens of patients lay on trolleys each day.
Dr Reilly -- who the Herald has revealed has not yet visited Tallaght Hospital since taking up office -- stated that the "governance structure" was no longer suitable.
However, he emphasised today that the future of Tallaght Hospital was secure and that the Government would cover its enormous debts.
"[The hospital] is going to have a budget deficit of €11m by the end of the year. And they have a plan to make that up over the next 12 months so we will ensure that the hospital continues to provide care to patients," he said.
"This hospital will not be allowed to run out of money. The future of Tallaght Hospital is bright. It is a very important hospital."
In a statement on the reconfiguration of the board, the minister said: "The unique history of Tallaght hospital, combining as it does [in the form of a charter] the identity of three separate foundations [the Meath Foundation, the Adelaide Hospital Society and the National Children's Hospital], has resulted in a governance structure which is ultimately no longer properly suited to the modern complexities of running an academic teaching hospital of such a scale."