Plans to move children’s post mortems to England are ‘cruel and inhumane’

Cllr Julie Flaherty with son Jake
Cllr Julie Flaherty with son Jake

Anger, shame and disgust has been expressed at plans to have the post mortems of children in NI carried out in England.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, Julie Flaherty, who lost her own son Jake in 2013, branded the decision ‘cruel and inhumane’.

The Department of Health has announced that plans are afoot for Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool to carry out post mortems from next year.

“I’m furious that the experience that we were forced to go through will now, and actually much worse, will be imposed upon so many more parents in NI,” said Cllr Flaherty.

“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 two days in order for a specialist to be found,” said the Ulster Unionist councillor.

“The decision that child post-mortems are going to be undertaken in England instead of NI will only add to the hurt and heartache of those families that have lost a young loved one. This is truly disgraceful. What is being proposed, even as an interim measure, feels very cruel and inhumane.

“Whereas funerals in NI usually take place three days after death, in England it is more typical to have a period of up to a week or even longer. The time between a death and the funeral taking place is especially traumatic so I am concerned that parents here will be forced to endure even longer delays as they are forced to follow the usual time-frames across the water.

“I am disgusted, I am angry and I feel ashamed that this is even happening here.

“As a parent who has been through this terrible experience, I feel very upset. Upset at the thought of what is ahead of grieving mothers and fathers. This cannot be allowed to continue. This is simply wrong.

“I cannot and will not accept that the only way this can be done is by the transportation by air or sea of deceased babies and infants. It is just wrong.

“There has also been discussion with counterparts in the south of an all island solution. Whilst I welcome discussion on the issue, and would not object, it is important to remember that all-island solutions are not always the panacea. It is also important to note that the number of paediatric pathologists there is presently five and is also in decline.”

A motion branding the decision unacceptable was passed by the Council this week.