Human Tissue Bill
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench)
My Lords, we have a national shortage of pathologists. I know that in Committee the Minister said that the penalties are to act as deterrents but I submit that erasure from the register is the greatest deterrent. I am not going to plead that pathologists or clinicians are more special than anyone else, but why does a magistrate have the power to imprison?
By not practising, the public is protected from harm and the pathologist, when suspended, is prevented from repeating a harm, as well as being duly punished. If a major problem arises, of course it will go to the High Court and it is right that the High Court has punitive powers. I suggest that the only deterrence achieved by keeping imprisonment at the behest of a magistrate is the certainty that fewer people will enter the specialty of pathology through fear of being wrongfully convicted and fear of the trauma around that.
We have 50 per cent of the pathology service that we should have and, at this rate, we may have none. Without pathologists, diagnostic accuracy will be almost absent. Do we really want to destroy pathological diagnostic services in the hope of deterring a potential unidentified wrongdoer in the future? Please may we have a sense of proportion and ensure that we attract bright, conscientious doctors to be pathologists and not drive them away by the threat of a magistrate being able to lock them up?