Relative of exhumed man speaks of 'family trauma'


A man whose father's body was exhumed by police carrying out investigations at a hospital spoke today of the trauma his family had suffered during the past week.

He also expressed concern for hospital staff working "under the cloud" caused by investigation into allegations of the over-prescribing of medicines by a nurse at Naas General Hospital first reported in The Irish Times.

The body of 77-year-old John Gethings was exhumed from Baltinglass cemetery, Co Wicklow, in the early hours of Friday morning. A nurse at the Co Kildare hospital where he died from heart failure was suspended two weeks ago after suspicions of "irregular deaths". Staff had expressed concern to management about the amount of medication being administered to a patient at the hospital.

Mr Gethings' son, also named John, said the episode had been upsetting for the family, especially for his mother who was in bad health. "It has been quite traumatic," he told RTE radio today.

He said he found out his father's body would be exhumed last Thursday, but had known for a week before that an investigation was under way. "A team from the hospital came down and informed us that there was an internal investigation and that the gardai had been called in," he said.

"They were very supportive and offered to help and we cannot fault that." The female nurse involved in the investigation was suspended following the establishment of an inquiry into the over-prescribing of medicines to elderly patients at Naas General.

Gardai are investigating three cases - two of which resulted in death. John Gethings died from heart failure at the hospital in March. His son said he had worked hard all his life as a tradesman and had spent a short time at Naas General.

He praised the staff at the hospital. "The nurses and doctors in Naas - I cannot praise them enough," he said. "Our hearts go out to them. "At the moment they are there working under these clouds and even the patients - it must be very unsettling for those patients at the moment who are in the hospital."

He said it was not possible to comment on the investigation until the findings were known to the public. "We have to just wait and see and let the investigation take its course," he added.

Toxicology tests were carried out on the remains of Mr Gethings and his body was later reburied. The results of the tests - which are expected later this week - could determine whether further exhumations are necessary.