Political parties express their shock and disgust after reports of dead bodies left on trolleys at Waterford hospital
'Appalling, unacceptable and shameful'.
A letter composed by four employees in University Hospital Waterford has claimed that dead bodies have been left on trolleys in the corridors of the hospital.
First seen in the Waterford News and Star, the letter claims that bodies are left to decompose in the hospital corridors, due to a lack of refrigeration facilities.
The letter states that the dead bodies were "leaking bodily fluids on to corridors and making closed-coffin funerals unavoidable in some cases".
JOE has reached out to the HSE for comment, but they have not yet responded.
Since this letter was made public, various TDs and political parties have issued statements on the matter.
Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler has expressed her shock and disgust at these reports about the conditions at the mortuary in University Hospital Waterford.
She has also called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to make a statement on the matter.
She said: “The contents of this letter, which was sent to the South-South West Hospital Group is deeply distressing and will be of great concern to families whose loved ones have passed at the hospital. The issues raised by the pathologists highlight the ongoing failures by the HSE to manage concerns, many of which have been raised time and time again.
“The mortuary at UHW was deemed unfit for purpose in 2004, and a brief for a new mortuary was completed in 2006. Despite being given the green light in 2013, the project has not been progressed any further. The fact that four pathologists had to put pen to paper illustrates how frustrated consultants are with the way the health service is being mismanaged by this government. Even the most basic services are suffering.
“We have always had a history in this country of treating death with dignity, but the situation outlined by the pathologists in this letter is truly appalling, unacceptable and shameful. The Minister must ensure that an investigation is established and a solution found. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue. Families in Waterford, and indeed across the country, deserve better”, concluded Deputy Butler.
Green Party Senator and MEP candidate Grace O’Sullivan, has also offered her opinion and she stated that the situation marks a shocking low in the history of medical care in Waterford.
“I’m horrified at this. The people of Waterford deserve better. In the context of a local health system that’s already not fit for purpose, with the ongoing issues around cardiac services, Cathlab provisions and other problems it’s just not good enough. Why are we here again – finding yet another example of Waterford being treated differently to health services in other parts of the country?
“It’s staggeringly sad to think of dying people being treated in this way. The indignity of people having reached the final stages of their lives on earth, passing away and being ‘stored’ on trolleys because of lack of resources and limited refrigeration space is too hard to imagine.
Senator O’Sullivan has called for the HSE to provide more details on the situation and to elaborate on their plans to avoid issues like this occurring in the future.
“We need more details on the current situation and how the HSE are proposing to address it in the immediate future. This is an emergency which needs urgent attention. As anyone can imagine, this is enormously stressful for families. The details about this are like something out of a horror film. If it weren’t for the dogged determination of journalist Darren Skelton, this story might never have reached the public eye.
"The HSE refused his initial request for a copy of the letter, even after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Now let’s see if there’s going to be action from our Minister for Health and his department. The people of Waterford are demanding it.”
Labour Party Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has said the HSE and Government officials must react swiftly to remedy the appalling conditions at University Hospital Waterford mortuary.
Deputy Kelly said: "News reports emerging today that dead bodies are being left on trolleys in University Hospital Waterford are absolutely horrifying. A relative passing away can be an upsetting time for any family but to add the conditions in which relatives are getting bodies of loved ones back from UHW is surely adding indescribable levels of grief and hurt into families.
“The conditions described by consultant pathologists in UHW make for absolutely grim, stomach-churning reading. The Minister for Health and the HSE must respond to their concerns in a real and meaningful way with an aim to investing more resources and making the necessary changes needed.
“The Minister and the HSE need to show compassion and respect to the families who have been affected by these awful circumstances and assure them that conditions will improve at the UHW mortuary. The scale of the trolley crisis is already demoralising enough for the living, this type of practice must not be the norm for the dead too."
Sinn Féin's Health Spokesperson, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that reports of deceased patients being left on trolleys on a corridor outside a mortuary in Waterford Hospital are both desperately saddening and appalling.
“I cannot imagine what this horrible scenario was like for the bereaved families of the deceased. To be even denied an open coffin funeral because a lack of capacity in the Health Service lead to this type of neglect is not something that should be tolerable in a developed country.
“There can be no excuses for a Health Service that does not treat our deceased with dignity and respect. This is a travesty, no ifs or buts. I call on Minister Harris to apologise to all bereaved families affected, explain how this was allowed to happen, and make assurances that nothing like this macabre scene can ever happen again.”