Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has called for immediate measures to be taken to ensure that mortuary facilities at University Hospital Waterford are safe for use.

His comments follow the news this evening that Gardaí will not send any more State cases to the mortuary in Waterford over fears that evidence could be contaminated.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “We can’t expect anyone to use a mortuary that An Garda Síochána think isn’t up to scratch. Every patient deserves an equally high standard of treatment and respect, even in death.

“What we need to see is instant action to ensure that conditions at the hospital are in line with best practice. If the government needs to supply modular buildings on the hospital grounds to act as a temporary mortuary then so be it. We can’t be left waiting for a response. Action must be taken before the end of this week.

“Longer term it’s crucial we see the long-promised permanent mortuary built at UHW as soon as possible. It’s also important that an independent investigation into the situation at the mortuary is conducted so that we can understand how conditions deteriorated to this level. The Taoiseach had previously suggested that HIQA might look into the issue but the health watchdog has made it clear that it has no power to investigate mortuaries.

“Ultimately we need to see a total culture shift within the HSE and government whereby workers, like the pathologists who first drew attention to this problem, feel safe coming forward with complaints. While the Taoiseach has recently apologised to the consultants, his original comments doubting their claims were decidedly unhelpful.

“It’s absolutely vital that we see Fine Gael take this seriously, not just for the doctors and hospital staff involved, but also for the families of those affected,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.