22 Aug 2018

Crisis looms in NZ Forensic Pathology Service

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 22 August 2018
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Photo: 123rf

Fears of a collapse in the service which carries out the majority of post-mortem examinations - including all homicides in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Justice has announced more funding for the country's small forensic pathology service but leading forensic pathologist, Dr Paul Morrow said a crisis was still looming.

He was concerned about the planned restructure of the service and also the lack of autopsy training for new anatomic pathologists.

Neither the Chief Coroner's Office or The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) were available to comment on Nine to Noon, but the Royal College did send a statement responding to Dr Morrow's concerns.

It said, "Due to a lack of hospital-based autopsies being performed, it is very difficult for Anatomical Pathology trainees to gain access to enough autopsies to receive proficient training and experience."

“As a consequence, 12 months ago, the RCPA reluctantly decided that it will no longer be a requirement for all Anatomical Pathology candidates to undertake autopsy training, effective 2019,"  the statement said.

The RCPA said for those who wished to have autopsy included as part their scope of practice in the future, it had developed a training program, which featured appropriate assessments for Anatomical Pathology trainees.

The RCPA also said it was also due to begin developing a Faculty of Post-Mortem Imaging in conjunction with the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) to help address both workforce issues and the introduction of new technologies.