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Post Mortems

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reason hospital pathologists in the Royal and the City hospitals are empowered to undertake coroners post mortems. [102018]

Article 11 of the Criminal Justice (NI) order 1980 empowers the Secretary of State to approve a list of registered medical practitioners for the performance of Coroner's post mortem examinations. The list is compiled by the Secretary of State on the advice of the State Pathologist.The current list is made up from forensic pathologists on the staff of the State Pathologist's Dept and named hospital pathologists attached to the Royal Victoria Hospital or the Belfast City Hospital. SPD staff will be engaged to conduct the majority of coroner's cases, especially post mortem examinations involving deaths, which might result in serious criminal charges being prepared, or where medical negligence or neglect has been alleged.Hospital pathologists currently conduct coroner's cases when the death of a patient has occurred in one of the Belfast teaching hospitals (Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast City Hospital, Mater Hospital and Ulster Hospital). In some circumstances eg paediatric deaths, autopsies are carried out jointly between a member of the State Pathologist's Department and a paediatric pathologist, while in others, specialist advice such as neuropathology, may be sought by the State Pathologist.