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24th April 2019 | Health, Press Releases

Human dignity at shocking low with treatment of bodies at University Hospital Waterford: Green MEP candidate Senator Grace O’Sullivan

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Reacting to the news today, that dead bodies have been left on trolleys for extended periods of time at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), Green Party Senator and MEP candidate Grace O’Sullivan, says the situation marks a shocking low in 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.

The news, which was broken by Waterford News and Star reporter Darren Skelton, was released after four consultant pathologists at the hospital penned a letter revealing details of bodies leaking bodily fluids onto the floor. The resulting ‘gaseous decomposition,’ they explained, leads to a need for ‘closed-coffin funerals with relatives unable to view the remains’.

The letter, which has not resulted in any significant changes since it was written last October. It was addressed to Gerry O’Dwyer, chief executive of the South-South West Hospital group, and was penned by UHW consultant pathologists Professor Rob Landers, Dr Fergus MacSweeney, Dr Nigam Shah and Dr Christine Shilling.

While the HSE have issued a short statement, this morning saying they expect work on a new mortuary to begin by the end of the year, Senator O’Sullivan says this is not good enough.

“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.”