The pleas of grieving families for additional services to hasten the process of post-mortem examinations – and allow them to bury loved ones – appear to have been heeded.
NSW Health Pathology has confirmed this week it is recruiting additional staff to deal with forensic pathology, which is needed in any unexpected death.
In NSW, forensic testing is done at specialist facilities in Newcastle, Sydney or Wollongong, and families from the Wagga region have expressed frustration at being left “in limbo” while post-mortem examinations are carried out.
The city has a new state-of-the-art pathology facility at the Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, but it does not do specialist forensic testing.
When Gundagai Tigers stalwart Mark Jones died in a crash near Tumut in July last year, his family had to wait two weeks before they could hold his funeral service.
Mr Jones’s mother Jill Jones called for additional resources to be provided to NSW Health Pathology, in a bid to prevent other families having a similar experience.
“The government has got to start to take some responsibility,” she told The Daily Advertiser at the time.
“I want to say to them ‘we are real families’ and no one should have to go through this.”
“While there has been a recognised global shortage of forensic pathologists, NSW Health Pathology is currently recruiting for one additional forensic pathologist position at this time,” a spokesperson said.
“NSW Health Pathology also recently boosted its forensic medicine teams with the recruitment of three new registrar trainees who will now carry out essential specialist training.”
“NSW Health Pathology’s Department of Forensic Medicine performs coronial post-mortem examinations and related testing at the request and direction of the NSW State Coroner in the event of an unexplained or unexpected death.
“This is carried out by trained specialists in forensic pathology at dedicated facilities in Newcastle, Sydney (Glebe) and Wollongong.
“Coronial post-mortems can only be performed by qualified forensic pathologists who have undergone specialist training and certification, and have a regular caseload.”
NSW Health Pathology recently opened one of the largest pathology facilities in regional NSW at Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, which is part of the $282.1 million Wagga Health Service Redevelopment.
This laboratory provides services for patients across the western Riverina including round-the-clock blood testing. A team of 55 includes pathologists, scientists, technical officers, collections and clerical staff.