Following the failure of the Home Office to provide a satisfactory response to Shabana Mahmood MP’s written question on the topic of improvements to forensic pathology services in England and Wales, Shabana has submitted a set of follow up questions to the Home Secretary.
These questions ask what steps the Tory Government has taken as a result of a number of recommendations made by the Hutton review of forensic pathology in England and Wales, which was submitted to the Minister of State for Crime and Prevention in March 2015.
The recommendations in the Hutton review include calls for:
• a greater interchange between forensic and general pathology training systems
• a publically funded salaried service to be introduced for forensic pathologists
• coronial autopsy sessions to be job planned within NHS contracts
• second post mortems only to be authorised following a formal application to a coroner or judge, and become a desk top review of the first report
• the coronial autopsy rate in England and Wales to be reduced by up to 40%
• non-forensic pathologists engaged in mass fatality incidents to work under the supervision of a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist
• consideration to be given to the current fee structure payable for autopsies and possibly revised on the basis that ‘you get what you pay for’
• the Criminal Procedure Rules to be vigorously enforced in order to avoid costly and unnecessary challenges by experts for the prosecution and the defence in court
• the provision for a judge to allow experts to give evidence via video link could be utilised in order to encourage more sub-speciality medical experts to engage in the criminal justice process
• sensitive material (such as notes, photographs, and copy statements) from forensic autopsies to be kept in secure locations
• pathologists and other clinicians, police, and coroners and their officers to be sensitive to the difficulties surrounding communication and understanding that arise in a multi-cultural when death occurs, in order to do what is possible to manage the situation well.