Changes in the way post-mortems are carried out has meant that bereaved families in Lanarkshire are having to wait up to three weeks to bury their loved ones, reported the Wishaw Press.
Post-mortems on people from Lanarkshire were, up until March last year, mainly carried out in Glasgow, with some carried out at Wishaw General Hospital. But the Crown Office spokesman confirmed in May this year that Wishaw General was no longer available for fiscal post-mortems. It is claimed that some families have to wait days to obtain the death certificate they require to organise funerals because of the change.
The spokesman said: “All Lanarkshire post-mortem examinations require to be conducted in Glasgow. Up to March 2011, a minority of post-mortems were conducted at Wishaw General Hospital, but that facility is no longer available to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”
A spokesperson for NHS Lanarkshire said there were two different types of post-mortems which can be carried out in a hospital: hospital post-mortems, carried out at the request of a clinician; and fiscal post-mortems, conducted at the request of the procurator fiscal service. Only hospital post-mortems are part of core NHS work.
She added: “Where a post-mortem is complex or may result in legal action, it cannot be carried out in hospital but must be undertaken by a forensic pathologist based at Glasgow University.
“Until recently hospital post-mortems (around 20 per annum) and some fiscal post-mortems (around 150 per annum) were carried out by a single pathologist in Lanarkshire. Sadly, he died suddenly last year and we no longer have a pathologist within Lanarkshire who is qualified to conduct post-mortems. All fiscal work has now been absorbed into their contract with Glasgow University. In relation to hospital PMs, this work is undertaken on our behalf by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. These are conducted within two to three days and the bodies are returned to Lanarkshire after the post-mortem so there is no delay or disruption for families.”