Families waiting up to nine days for postmortems on loved ones

University Hospital Kerry: Post mortems

Families in Kerry have had to wait for up to nine days for a pathologist to carry out a postmortem examination after a loved one has died and it delays the remains being returned for funerals and the cause of death being established, the Dáil has been told.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said two pathologists we previously engaged in the county have been retired for well over six months and the State has still to appoint somebody to serve the county of Kerry.

He named three Kerry families, who are good friends of his, who have had to wait several days for an autopsy to be conducted and he said that situation was just not good enough.

“We have been helped by Dr Margot Bolster who has done her utmost to fill the void. She has to do the examinations early in the morning, late at night and at the weekends. On one occasion, she had to do an examination on a bank holiday Monday,” Deputy Healy-Rae aid.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Situation is hard on families

He added that the staff in the morgue in Tralee give excellent help and are always accessible and available while undertakers have even indicated they would take remains to Cork, Dublin, Limerick and elsewhere to get the examinations carried out in a timely fashion.

“The system that currently pertains in Kerry is not acceptable and I am asking that the situation be sorted out,” the Kerry TD stated.

“If it is the case that a permanent pathologist cannot be found for Kerry, I ask that undertakers be allowed to take remains to Cork, Limerick or even Dublin.

“It is not acceptable that families have to wait up to nine days for a postmortem and up to 11 days to have the funeral concluded,” Deputy Healy-Rae remarked.

Junior Minister Colm Burke: Will raise the matter

“When a body is taken to the morgue in Tralee, all the family wants is for the postmortem to be concluded, the remains returned and to have a dignified funeral, with their friends around them to help them grieve. It is a natural process.

What is happening in Kerry is too stressful for families. If a pathologist for Kerry cannot be found in Ireland, surely somebody can be sourced from abroad,” he added.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. said there are four forensic pathologists based in Dublin, with additional support provided by a forensic pathologist in Cork on a rota basis.

Postmortem examinations in non-suspicious deaths under the remit of the coroner are directed to be performed by hospital-based histopathology consultants.

Minister of State Burke the HSE has advised that the pathology service in University Hospital Kerry is supported, as required, by consultants based in Cork University Hospital but he would raise the matter of the delays with the Department of Health and the HSE.

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