Saturday, September 6, 2008

Morgue 'unable to cope'

THE NSW Government is closing the pathology department at Westmead Morgue even though it was warned a year ago this would create a "serious bottleneck" at Sydney's only remaining pathology unit at Glebe.

The warning was in a report commissioned in 2007 by NSW Health into the impact of closing down pathology at Westmead.

The report, by Phillipa Milne and Associates, said the Glebe morgue would not be able to cope with the additional work if Westmead was closed. It said Glebe would have problems receiving and dispatching bodies, and that a new larger morgue would have to be built.

Glebe would have to take 70 per cent of the 4000 bodies a year in NSW needing autopsies, with 30 per cent going to Newcastle.

Westmead morgue is now running with a small staff of 14 and one pathologist and the Health Services Union is fighting to keep their jobs.

Meanwhile pathologists say the Government has ignored years of warnings that a crisis was developing with a shortage of pathologists.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia chief executive Debra Graves said NSW needed 70 more pathologists. "There can be delays of several months for an autopsy now and this will only get longer unless something is done," Dr Graves said.


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