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SA's Health Ombud asked to investigate post mortem claims

The national Health Department will request Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba to investigate allegations that untrained officials have been conducting post mortems since 2006.

News24 reports Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said. "I am writing a letter to the Health Ombud to investigate this claim. All those that made this claim must appear in front of the Ombud to prove that claim," he said.

Motsoaledi urged all affected offices and individuals to co-operate with Makgoba during the investigation as "the country wishes to know the truth". He said the department of health will take stern action on those responsible if the claim is found to be true.

The report says that on 20 June, the portfolio committee on health allegedly heard in May that untrained forensics officers have been conducting post mortems since 2006 without supervision. At the time, DA MP Patricia Kopane said the committee heard about the challenges in the country's forensic services, including an apparent skill shortage. "They (untrained forensics officers) learnt from the pathologists. Actually, that's how the skills were transferred so that's why later they felt they are competent; they can do the job, despite that they did not have the qualification to do so," she said.

The report says the National Forensic Pathology Services Committee, however, disputed the allegations, saying it is "absurd" to suggest that non-medically trained assistants have been responsible for conducting the post mortems. Chair Gert Saayman said there are clear differences between a forensics officer or assistant who is employed to assist trained pathologists, and a qualified pathologist who conducts a post mortem. He said it is not unique to the field of forensic pathology that assistants do certain dissection procedures.

The report says the Health Professions Council of South Africa has not responded to queries since 8 June.

[link url=""]News24 report[/link]

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