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Just one of the seven Hospital Groups – the Children’s Hospital Group – has a full complement of board members, while another four Hospital Groups have a Chair appointed only.
A DMHG spokesperson said that Dr Frank Dolphin stepped down as Chair of the Group in 2016 and that the appointment of a new board Chair is underway.
According to www.stateboards.ie, the South/South West Hospital Group, Ireland East Hospital Group, RCSI Hospitals Group and Saolta University Health Care Group each have a Chair appointed only.
The Department of Health website outlines that all State board vacancies, where the Minister has nominating rights, must be advertised by the Public Appointments Service on www.stateboards.ie or the Department of Health website.
However, MI could not locate any advertisements for appointments to public Hospital Group boards on www.stateboards.ie or the Department website.
A Department spokesperson said: “Hospital Group boards do not have any statutory powers at present, they are mandated to assist and advise in respect of acute hospital services in the Hospital Group.”
They added that advertising campaigns have been completed for the Saolta University Health Care Group and University of Limerick Hospitals.
“The arrangements to advance the other board vacancies, including timetable for PAS [Public Appointments Service] campaigns, is under consideration, informed by the experience gained from the first two campaigns.”
Meanwhile, minutes of a board meeting at Trinity College, Dublin, in May 2016, outlined concern at the slow progress in developing the DMHG, especially in respect of governance.
The minutes outlined a plan to continue with Trinity Health Ireland (THI), the existing partnership between Trinity, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, St James’s Hospital, Dublin and the Coombe Women and Infant’s University Hospital, Dublin, in the absence of a functioning Hospital Group.
“The DMHG has been slow to be established, especially on the governance side, where its board members had not been appointed by the Government,” the minutes stated.
The university “is fully committed to the DMHG”, but until it is fully functional “THI will be used to ensure that progress to date is maintained”, stated the minutes.