Conducting forensic autopsies in regional areas is being investigated by the state government, according to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
Mr Hazzard was in Wagga on Friday to announce a new $21.7 million state-wide telehealth service that will provide regional stroke patients - who number more than 4250 annually - with 24-7 access to life-saving treatments.
The minister described the delays faced by families who were waiting for a loved one's body to be returned from an examination as a huge issue.
One of the issues we have experienced - and it's what the medical people are telling me - is there just aren't the number of forensic pathologists that are available.Brad Hazzard, NSW Health Minister
"Families in and around the Riverina are finding it a struggle because quite often in cases you have to wonder why it really needs a full autopsy, a full coronial investigation - loved ones are being transported quite long distances," he said.
"That is something we are currently looking at. I've already had discussions, actually, with the coronial people from Newcastle and I've asked the Attorney-General to prioritise looking at the legislative requirements around that so those lengthy periods are not required.
"To my mind, it seems a little illogical that somebody who has an illness which is fairly obvious that has led to death that of person, that loved one, has to be transported such a long distance and then wait.
"I'm not a clinician, I'm not as forensic specialist, but it doesn't seem logical to me, and certainly in conversations with Mackenna [Powell, The Nationals' candidate for Wagga], she's expressed the concerns of families, so hopefully after the election's out of the way, we can get back to getting on with that.
"We're looking at whether or not it's feasible to have a regional capacity right here in Wagga.
"One of the issues we have experienced - and it's what the medical people are telling me - is there just aren't the number of forensic pathologists that are available.
This has been an issue for at least two-and-a-half yearsMember for Wagga, Joe McGirr
"We're also looking at how we might be able to train more. We are talking to the universities and to the research organisations to see whether we can get more forensic pathologists into this area. It's a very complex area."
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr, who has previously raised the issue, said that while he welcomed any action by the government, he was frustrated by how long it was taking.
"This has been an issue for at least two-and-a-half years," he said.
Country Labor's Dan Hayes described the issue as being "above politics".
"They should be done in Wagga. We're the biggest inland city in NSW and the coverage of the health service is enormous," he said.
Shooters, Fishers, Farmers candidate Seb McDonagh also backed any moves to bring forensic autopsy facilities to regional areas.
"My family's got personal experience with having a death and a body having to be sent away," he said.
"It is a very emotional time for families and, realistically, even if we had a fly-in and fly-out type of service here, the government should be looking at it."