Taoiseach apologises over recent Waterford hospital mortuary comments 7 months ago

Taoiseach apologises over recent Waterford hospital mortuary comments

Leo Varadkar had recently said that there wasn't any evidence to back up the claims that dead bodies had been left decomposing on trolleys in the corridors of the hospital mortuary.

Just over a week ago, news emerged that a letter composed by four employees in University Hospital Waterford claimed that dead bodies had been left on trolleys in the corridors of the hospital.

The letter claimed that dead bodies were "leaking bodily fluids on to corridors and making closed-coffin funerals unavoidable in some cases".

At the time, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded to these claims by saying that there wasn't any evidence to back up the claims and that he felt it was a "strange story".

The comments were not well received, and following criticism, Varadkar has apologised for not "treating the subject with the seriousness or sensitivity it deserved".

In a statement issued to RTÉ, Varadkar said:

"Last week when I was asked about the Waterford mortuary, there were conflicting accounts. On the one hand, a letter from four consultants making deeply disturbing claims about conditions in the mortuary and on the other hand, a statement from hospital management saying there was no evidence or supporting complaints to back up the claims.

"I did not want to jump to conclusions or to side with one group or staff against another without knowing facts or before an investigation was carried out. That's why I said that I did not know if the claims were true or not.

"Over the course of the week, corroborating statements have come to light and complaints have been made that I believe support the views expressed by the four consultants. This is one I got wrong.

"I want to apologise unreservedly to anyone who feels that I did not treat this issue with the seriousness or sensitivity it deserved.

"As I have said before, my overriding concern is for the dignity of patients in life and in death. It has never been in dispute that the mortuary is sub-standard and needs to be replaced. Planning permission has been granted for a new one and I am assured that it will go to tender and construction this year. In the interim, temporary measures are being put in place."