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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Varadkar regrets if tone on Waterford mortuary was taken up the wrong way

Last week concerns were raised about dead bodies being left on trolleys in the corridors of the mortuary.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he regrets if he struck an adversarial tone when speaking about the concerns raised about the mortuary at Waterford University Hospital. 

Last week concerns were raised about dead bodies being left on trolleys in the corridors of the mortuary, leading to closed-coffin funerals, and exposing the public visiting hospitals “to the odours of a postmortem room”.

However, Varadkar said on Tuesday that he wasn’t sure if the claims were true, adding that it was a “strange story” and there was “no evidence” to support the allegations from those who made them. 

Since the news broke last week, the South-South West Hospital Group and Waterford University Hospital said that it hadn’t received a complaint from the public or an incident report from staff members in relation to the mortuary.

These concerns were first raised in an October letter signed by four consultant pathologists.

Speaking at an event in Westmeath today, the Taoiseach did not withdraw the remarks he made earlier this week, adding that there are two different accounts of conditions in the mortuary. 

Two different accounts

“The only thing I said was there were different accounts, and I did not want to be calling any staff member dishonest or questioning the veracity of what they said.”

He said he is always in favour of people bringing forward concerns to management.

Yesterday, Health Minister Simon Harris said the pathologists were “carrying out their duty”, adding that the Taoiseach “as is his trademark, was asked a question and he gave a very honest appraisal of the situation, that factually he didn’t have all of the evidence or all of the information”.

Varadkar’s comments come as one of the country’s top consultants and former senator, Professor John Crown, called on the Taoiseach to apologise to the pathologists. 

Waterford Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane has called for a full independent inquiry into the claims about dead bodies being left to decompose on hospital trolleys at the hospital.

“If it was the case that bodies were decomposing on trolleys or left on the floor of a mortuary, that is a scandal that cannot be left go unanswered,” he told RTÉ Radio One today. 

Cullinane said the Taoiseach ”cannot brush under the carpet” what the pathologists alleged was happening at the mortuary, adding that it needed to be properly investigated. 

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