14 Nov 2012

'Ash Cash' payments to doctors under review

3:45 pm on 14 November 2012

Doctors and district health boards are reviewing so-called "Ash Cash" payments, where the fees that families pay for cremation certificates are used for perks.

The Residents Doctors Association says doctors have a legal responsibility when filling out the certificates to make sure a body can be cremated and does not have a pacemaker, which can explode during the process.

National secretary Deborah Powell says a fee has been charged for as long as anyone can remember, but says the amount varies from DHB to DHB, with some ditching the fee altogether.

She says there needs to be consistency across the country. District Health Boards and doctors will meet to decide whether the payment is still necessary, and if so what it should be.

Dr Powell says the money is nominal and usually gets pooled to pay for social events, such as welcome parties for new doctors or hospital resources.