14/11/2018

UUP: End Of Local Child Postmortems Cruel And Inhumane

A UUP Councillor who lost her two-year-old son five years ago has expressed anger following the announcement that postmortem examinations on infants in Northern Ireland will be carried out in England in the New Year.

It comes as the current consultant paediatric pathologist is due to leave his post in early 2019, and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has failed to recruit a replacement.

Councillor Julie Flaherty, the current Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon said: "It is a tragedy for any family to lose a baby or young child. Nothing can ever prepare you for it and even years after it, their loss remains with you for every hour of every day.

"I lost my son Jake when he was only 2 years and 2 days old in 2013. Unfortunately I know from bitter experience how hard it is for parents to face delays for a post-mortem - my husband and I were forced to wait an extra 2 days in order for a specialist to be found.

"That delay only made a nightmare even more difficult for us so I’m furious that the experience we were forced to go through will now be imposed upon so many more parents in Northern Ireland.

"For the HSCB to even be looking at using technology such as an app, to allow parents to follow their child's remains as they make the journey to England and back, demonstrates the sheer-cruelty and inhumanity of what is being proposed."

Mrs Flaherty added that the time between a death and a funeral is an especially traumatic one, and will be extended with the relocation of child postmortem services to England, to be carried out at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.
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"As a local Councillor I am disgusted, I am angry and I feel ashamed that this is even happening. This cannot be allowed to continue. We have no accountability in the Department, we have no responsibility in this Department," Mayor Flaherty added.

Meanwhile, Doug Beattie MC MLA has also hit out at the situation and called on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to immediately appoint a local Health Minister to make essential decisions.

"In 2016 I lost my 18 month old grandson Cameron in the most terrible and unexpected circumstances. We thank everyone for the care, dignity and decency they showed this lovely boy as he went through a rigorous post-mortem. It was done thoroughly and it was done quickly and although we have never found out the cause of his death we thank God that his mother and father were not made to suffer a protracted process before his burial.

"The news that child post-mortems are going to be undertaken in England instead of Northern Ireland will only add to the hurt and heartache of those families that have lost a young loved one.

"This is truly disgraceful and the blame must be levelled at politicians who have not been in post to make strategic decisions and not at the Health and Social Care Board.

"It is clear to me and to many more that our health infrastructure is slowly disintegrating and in the end it will collapse unless something drastic is done and done now. The health service is facing an unprecedented crisis in terms of pressures, waiting lists, staff vacancies and morale."

Mr Beattie added that the Northern Ireland secretary should act and appoint a minister "out of decency", to match the level of care provided to people in the other regions of the UK.

"It is shameful that this situation continues and although angry, I will avoid the political blame game but instead call for action not words."



(JG)

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