Belfast Telegraph

Former state pathologist criticises inspectors over department report

By Michael McHugh

The retired state pathologist has said he is angered by inspectors who misunderstood the difficulties facing his department when drawing up a critical report

Professor Jack Crane said obtaining the services of outside specialists could take some time but was necessary to uphold the high standards of the pathologist's office.

He recognised the impact on bereaved families if autopsy reports were delayed but said experts working for health trusts or the forensics laboratory often had competing demands on their time.

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland has said the pathology department was beset with issues over timeliness of reporting and recommended it be merged with forensic services.

Prof Crane said: “I feel despite trying to explain these reasons to the inspectors that they were not prepared to listen and that has angered me, that they have not fully understood the difficulties and the problems that we are facing.

“It is not a question of blame, it is a question of understanding why some cases take longer to complete than others.”

The department plays a key role in handling unexpected or suspicious deaths by preparing reports for coroners and supporting criminal probes. It carried out 1,176 postmortems last year.

The inspectorate said that the scientific quality was good but the organisation continued to face issues in management and accountability.

Belfast Telegraph


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