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Why our new $1.8bn hospital can't deliver a critical service

Bodies are being sent to Brisbane for coronial autopsies because no-one is qualified to do the work on the Coast.
Bodies are being sent to Brisbane for coronial autopsies because no-one is qualified to do the work on the Coast. fergregory

DESPITE state-of-the-art facilities at the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital, bodies are being sent to Brisbane for coronial autopsies because no-one is qualified to do the work is available here.

Bodies were being transported at an estimated cost of $1200 to-and-from the John Tonge Centre now known as Forensic and Scientific Services.

Hospitals in Toowoomba, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Townsville and Cairns are equipped and staffed to do the work.

The situation has persisted since last year following the retirement of the one forensic pathologist qualified to undertake coronial autopsies here.

Health Support Queensland has been trying to recruit locally in the face of what is claimed to be a global shortage of the relevant skill set.

However the government health unit has denied bodies are being effectively ramped awaiting investigation.

A spokesperson said the average time bodies were held before being returned to relatives remained six business days however this could take more or less time governed by coroner's orders and the complexity of the investigation.

The Sunshine Coast University Hospital opened last month featuring a dazzling array of services and cutting edge health infrastructure including robotic drug dispensing services, operating theatres and a morgue with all the facilities needed to perform forensic autopsies.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said coronial autopsies could be extremely complex.

"The timeframe from admission to release is governed by the relevant Coroner's Orders and is dependent on complexity of the case; the availability of funeral directors to transfer the deceased and the Queensland Police Service's consultation with families," the spokesperson said.

"We want to reassure locals that these transfers are not being funded using money from their local healthcare budget. These transfers are fully arranged, and paid for, by the Coroner's Court of Queensland."

The spokesperson said Forensic and Scientific Services collaborated with Coroners and regional mortuary staff to manage cases appropriately, including consideration of which cases require transfer to Brisbane.

Queensland Health failed to respond to questions about how long the the facilities at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital would remain idle as it search continues to find someone capable of ensuring they were fully utilised.

Topics:  delays queensland health sunshine coast university hospital


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