“It just goes to show how dysfunctional the HSE is” – the words of local TD Bobby Aylward in response to a damning letter from doctors at University Hospital Waterford about dead bodies left lying on trollies in the corridors due to a lack of storage facilities at the mortuary there.
Four consultants have put their names to the letter and say it is causing unspeakable trauma to families, some of whom have no option but to have a closed coffin due to decomposition.
Deputy Aylward says he was aware the situation was bad but not this bad telling KCLR “I’ve often heard down through the years that these conditions were deplorable, but I never knew they were as bad until I saw these reports”.
He added “The HSE have to hang their head in shame here, we’re supposed to be one of the top richest countries in the world and to think that families have to go through that. Imagine you going in and you can’t pay respect to family member by having the coffin closed because of these conditions”.
Planning permission for a new mortuary has been approved however there’s no funding available.
Matt Shanahan PRO for Health Equality for the South East says the hospital badly needs new facilities and notes “in terms of the money it’s only €5.6 million, less than half a percent of the national children’s hospital overspend, money that should have been sequestered and given to this hospital more than six years ago.”
He concluded by saying “we are fighting to treat the living & the dead & the fight goes on”.
Meanwhile the following’s a statement to KCLR from the HSE:
“It is a priority for both the South/South West Hospital Group and the National Acute Hospitals Division of the HSE to replace the mortuary at University Hospital Waterford. This development is included in the Draft Capital Plan sent to the Department of Health for approval. We would expect to progress to selecting a contractor and commencing construction of a new mortuary in the final quarter of this year, with a twenty month construction programme. The design phase of the development has already been completed and the estimated cost of construction is €5m. In the interim University Hospital Waterford is currently examining arrangements to address the issues raised.”