Tuesday 20 August 2019

Consultants' association backs doctors as Varadkar describes Waterford morgue concerns as 'strange'

Outlined his concerns: Professor Rob Landers. Photo: Tom Burke
Outlined his concerns: Professor Rob Landers. Photo: Tom Burke

Eilish O'Regan and Cormac McQuinn

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) is "alarmed" at the Government response to a group of four doctors who highlighted concerns about sub-standard conditions at a Waterford hospital mortuary.

The IHCA was responding to the ongoing row which followed revelations last week that four senior doctors at University Hospital Waterford claimed that conditions are so cramped, bodies have to be placed in corridors, and a lack of temperature control caused some to leak and decompose.

The hospital said it has no evidence to substantiate the claims and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the issues highlighted as "strange".

However, in response the IHCA backed the doctors involved.

Professor Rob Landers is one of the pathologists at University Hospital Waterford who wrote to the hospital last October outlining their concerns.

He said the recent response from the hospital was an attempt to discredit the doctors who had "put their reputations on the line in order to improve conditions at the hospital".

"For the HSE to claim they were unaware of the issues and risks associated with the mortuary is at best disingenuous," he added.

At a post-Cabinet press conference, Mr Varadkar was challenged on remarks where he said there isn't any evidence to back up the claims about Waterford Hospital.

"I don't know if those claims are true or not but it doesn't seem that there's any evidence to support them and certainly those who made them haven't put forward any evidence to support them," Mr Varadkar said.

"What really matters is that the new mortuary be built, it is being built, the planning permission is secured and the project is going out to tender," he added.

He was asked if he thought that the consultants were lying.

"No, I didn't say that. What I said was a statement of fact," Mr Varadkar replied.

"There is a dispute about what the true facts are."

He added that "the only way we can get to the bottom of it is through further investigation and I know that's being considered by the joint Oireachtas committee or by Hiqa."

But a spokesman for Hiqa said: "That is not correct. We have no powers to investigate mortuaries."

Irish Independent

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