State Pathologists Office to move post mortems away from University Hospital Waterford over morgue issues

State Pathologists Office to move post mortems away from University Hospital Waterford over morgue issues
File photo of University Hospital Waterford.

Post mortems are no longer to be carried out University Hospital Waterford mortuary in State cases, according to gardaí.

Instead, post mortems on bodies needed for criminal investigations in the South-east will now go to the city morgue in Dublin, due to contamination fears of potential evidence.

Gardaí have agreed to the move after serious concerns were raised about the facilities in the mortuary by four pathologists working there.

Consultations between the State Pathologists Office and senior gardaí have been ongoing about the matter which have given rise to the change in policy.

Garda Headquarters said it does not comment on operational matters or third-party letters.

It is understood the State Pathologists Office has written to gardaí confirming the change. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already been forced to apologise to the pathologists working from the Waterford morgue for questioning their revelations.

The pathologists, in a letter to the South/South West hospital group, several months ago, highlighted that dead bodies had been left decomposing on trolleys in the corridors of the hospital mortuary.

Sinn Féin TD in Waterford, David Cullinane, said: "This is a very serious development. It is a disgrace that it has come to this.

"The Hospital Group, hospital management and the HSE knew about the dreadful conditions at the mortuary since 2004 and yet building works have still not commenced for a new facility.

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"The HSE and the Department have very serious questions to answer. They must come before the Oireachtas Health Committee and we need a full, independent inquiry into services at the mortuary.”

A hospital group statement said they, along with hospital management, “have been fully aware of the challenge associated with the mortuary infrastructure for some considerable time.

"The development of a new replacement mortuary for UHW has been on the HSE capital plan since 2014 and planning permission for the proposed new mortuary was received in 2016.

"In addition, efforts to resolve the matter resulted in a replacement mortuary for UHW being placed on the HSE’s capital programme.

"Approval to proceed to tender was received in March 2019. The current programme for this will see the new facility being delivered within approximately two years.”

As an interim solution, the hospital group has said that a mobile refrigerated unit will be on site.

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