Martin announces overhaul of acute hospitals in Cork


A new mechanism for funding the acute hospitals in Cork and new bodies to co-ordinate planning and services have been announced by the Minister for Health.

At present, two of the three acute hospitals in the city, the South Infirmary-Victoria and the Mercy, are funded directly by the Department of Health. The third acute facility, Cork University Hospital, is funded by the Southern Health Board. Under the new arrangements, all three will be funded directly by the health board.

Mr Martin said yesterday it was envisaged that the overall planning of strategic issues would be handled by an acute hospitals planning forum. A service planning group would oversee operational matters.

The changes would streamline services for the public, enhance co-operation between the three hospitals, ensure the provision of "a single service from multiple sites" and reduce waiting lists.

Last year, the total waiting list at Cork University Hospital was 1,031, but this had now been halved. Fragmentation of expertise was one of the reasons Cork had fallen behind in filling consultants' posts. However, the Department had sanctioned £21.25 million for the creation of an additional 25 consultants' posts, which would come on stream this year.

The Minister said the new structures would respect the operational autonomy and ethos of the three hospitals and would become a driving force for a more cohesive and focused health service.