If the HSE — as an institution — were a family, it would be dysfunctional one, shrouded in secrecy and characterised by obfuscation and confusion.
Its inability to show respect for many patients in its care is shocking and disturbing. We are all painfully aware of our hospitals’ trolley crisis where hundreds of patients are left lying on makeshift beds for hours on end, forced to live without dignity. The revelation that dead bodies have been left lying at University Hospital Waterford mortuary shows that the HSE cannot even guarantee a dignified death.
Equally disturbing is its culture of resistance to scrutiny, as evidence by the refusal to deny access to the letter of complaint on the matter by consultants at UHW, which had been sought under the Freedom of Information Act by Darren Skelton, a journalist at the Waterford News & Star.
The reason stated was that the release ‘could contaminate the deliberative process in relation to the upgrade of the mortuary.’
But what about contaminating patients, visitors and staff? The response is as primative as the conditions at UHW.