Post-mortem Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Health, Social Services and Public Safety – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 20th April 2015.

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Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 20th April 2015

T1. Mr Milne asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many families have been impacted adversely by the lack of weekend and bank holiday post-mortem services. (AQT 2371/11-15)

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Rev William McCrea, MP for South Antrim, has raised the issue with particular reference to Antrim Area Hospital and the distress that this can cause families. Without prior notice, I cannot give the Member the figures. Mr McCrea's approach prompted me to make a mental note to investigate the issue because it seems to be a problem throughout Northern Ireland, apart from in the major Belfast hospitals. We will investigate the issue and see what can be done to help families in this very distressing situation.

Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Phríomh-LeasCheann Comhairle. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as a fhreagraí go dtí seo. I thank the Minister for his answer. I appreciate that this does not affect just my constituency; it happens across the whole of the North. It is reassuring to hear the Minister state that he will take a look at this. If a review is needed, I ask that it is done as quickly as possible because of the stress that it causes to the families concerned.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Yes, I will look at this. Rev McCrea gave me information on a very distressing incident that he was involved in with a family from Magherafelt. No one could give a definitive answer to the family. Unfortunately, the deceased passed away at the weekend, and there seemed to be a hiatus before anything could be done to assist them. I suspect that that issue, which was raised in the local media in mid-Ulster, is the one the Member is referring to. You have to balance that with whether you keep staff working over the weekend when there may be very few cases to deal with. But, having heard from Rev McCrea of the huge hurt that that particular issue caused, I think it is something we should investigate, and I will do that. It will not be a formal review but a departmental look at where we are going on this. Remember that we do not have direct control of all these issues, but we will certainly look at it.