This day in 1998: Tallaght University Hospital opened its doors

By Mary Dennehy

TALLAGHT University Hospital opened its doors to its first 115 patients on the 21 June 1998, with the €140m facility being the largest healthcare project in the history of the State at that time. 

On a sunny Sunday in June 1998, 115 patients began their transfer to Tallaght from the three base hospitals, the Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s Hospitals.

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Hospital Staff pictured with CEO, David Slevin (far right) this week

The opening of the new health facility on the city’s fringes was deemed “the start of a new era” by then hospital chief executive Dr David McCutcheon – with the hospital now, two decades later, entering a new era of “re-invigoration and development”.

Over the past 20 years, Tallaght Hospital has smashed all of the forecasts made in relation to demand on its services, with the facility now operating well over capacity as it tries to care for a rapidly growing and aging community.

It has not been plain sailing for Tallaght Hospital, which has been hit with a number of crisis situations in recent years all the while operating on a budget that did not reflect its growing catchment area.

However, plans and proposals are in place by hospital management to future-proof the hospital as it looks forward to the next 20 – plans that aim to improve patient access and care.

Speaking with The Echo, Tallaght University Hospital CEO, David Slevin said: “In the last 20 years the hospital has grown alongside the community it cares for.

“Our local population has grown to approximately 100,000 people which is far in excess of the population projected at the time the hospital was commissioned.

Tallaght Hospital Echo June 1998 2

Coverage from The Echo's special feature on Tallaght Hospital 's opening in June 1998, which includes the hospital's first patient 

“These ever-evolving demographic and service demand patterns require even more innovation, greater integration and investment in order to facilitate the safe delivery of quality care our patients deserve.”

He added: “The hospital is going through a phase of re-invigoration, growth and development… so that we can improve access and timely access for the community.

“We have €80m approved of a €130m plan to develop the hospital, that’s 2/3 of our plan achieved.

“Investment is coming to Tallaght.”

Growth

Alongside a growing community, Tallaght Hospital has a growing team.

Staff numbers have grown from 2,000 in 1998 to 3,119 staff from 41 different countries around the world in 2018.

“The growth and diversity of our workforce is reflected in the community we care for and the growing number of services we provide,” Mr Slevin said.

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Echo coverage of some of the hospital's staff in June 1998

“As we mark the 20th year of caring for those in our community, on behalf of the hospital management I would like to acknowledge the incredible support we receive from the local community, it is greatly appreciated.

“I hope as we move ahead with developing and improving patient care we can continue to count on that support.

“I think it is also important on this occasion to acknowledge the incredible work of our staff, the compassion and commitment they show to patients, their families and one another. It all goes hand in hand to deliver on a day to day basis our ethos of people caring for people.”

The future 

Looking forward, Mr Slevin said: “The challenge for our catchment area will be the projected population growth for those aged over 75 years, forecast to increase by a staggering 322 per cent by 2041 and the increasing prevalence of chronic illness.

“These challenges require significant resources as well as a coordinated response by our policy makers, political leaders and health professionals as to how we can meaningfully respond in addressing these issues over the coming years.

“As the hospital celebrates 20 years it is looking to the future and how it can play its role in building a sustainable, modern healing environment that can continue to care for those in its community and beyond.”

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