Sunday 18 August 2019

Harris orders review into running of hospital mortuary

University Hospital Waterford
University Hospital Waterford
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A review of the running of Waterford's hospital mortuary has been ordered by Health Minister Simon Harris.

The mortuary has been at the centre of controversy for the last two weeks after pathologists warned of cramped conditions and lack of proper refrigeration facilities, forcing some deceased bodies to be placed in the corridor where they were at risk of leaking.

Mr Harris said yesterday he will now draw up terms of reference for a review of the operation of the mortuary.

A modular prefab refrigerated building is to arrive on site tomorrow to provide more temporary mortuary space.

Mr Harris told the Dáil: "I want to take a couple of days to get this right and a couple of days in relation to terms of reference and who should carry out the review."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologised last week for his comments on the doctors' claims, which he appeared to question. He admitted he "got it wrong".

The State Pathologist's Office has already said it will no longer be making referrals to the mortuary for post mortems.

Meanwhile, Waterford minister John Halligan broke his silence on the controversy yesterday as he called for an "independent inquiry".

Speaking to Damien Tiernan on WLR's 'Déise Today' programme, Mr Halligan criticised Mr Varadkar for comments he made trying to dismiss the situation as a "strange story".

At the time, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said he had been briefed by Mr Halligan.

He said the situation is "highly sensitive" and Mr Varadkar "caused upset by his initial remarks". Mr Halligan, who has consistently campaigned for extra cardiac facilities at the same hospital, said an independent inquiry is now justified.

Irish Independent

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