Review reveals half recommendations on Pathology Service ‘Not Yet Achieved’

A follow-up review of Criminal Justice Inspection’s report of the State Pathologist’s Department has shown that just half the 30 recommendations included in the original report have so far been achieved.

Speaking after the publication of the follow-up review Northern Ireland’s Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Kit Chivers said it was disappointing that progress in implementing some recommendations and actions agreed by the State Pathologist’s Department and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) had been slow.
“The key recommendation made by CJI in its original report published in June 2005 concerning the status, governance and accountability of the State Pathologist’s Department needs immediate action.
“The relationship between the State Pathologist’s Department and the NIO also needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency as it runs the risk of damaging the quality of service delivered to the public,” said the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice.
Mr. Chivers also reiterated previous concerns expressed by Inspectors over the delay in completing post mortem reports.
“Improved tracking and monitoring of cases has showed there were 566 outstanding cases in July 2006 of which 179 cases were waiting more than five months,” he stated, adding that overcoming the problem of delayed reports required further action on a number of recommendations including the recruitment of a new consultant pathologist and the more equitable distribution of the existing post mortem workload.
Despite the limited progress made in connection with 15 of the 30 original recommendations, Mr. Chivers said the follow-up review revealed a number of positive findings.
“The review confirmed the overall quality of the forensic pathology service was good and that the Department continues to complete most post mortem examinations within 24 hours of notification.
“Inspectors also found the quality of autopsy work carried out by the State Pathologist’s Department was professionally regarded as high and there have been no recent challenges to the quality or independence of the forensic pathology service,” added the Chief Inspector.
“We also found good progress could be reported in the preparation for the building of a new mortuary and accommodation for State Pathologist’s Department staff on the site of the Royal Group of Hospitals and a new case management system had been fully implemented.” he said.
Mr. Chivers concluded: “While I am confident that significant progress can be made In relation to the outstanding recommendations, CJI has decided to carry out a further follow up review of the recommendations which have not been achieved in 12 months.