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Forensic pathology application being finalised

The Office of the State Pathologist (OSP) is “working closely” with RCPI on finalising an application for specialty recognition of forensic pathology, which is expected to be submitted imminently to the Medical Council.

If the initial application is accepted, the entire process will take around 18 months, a College spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

In March, the Medical Council re-opened the specialty recognition process following a three-year assessment of the procedure. 

A recent review of the OSP, conducted by RCPI on behalf of the Department of Justice and Equality (DJE), referred to “serious staffing difficulties currently facing the OSP”.

“The chief state pathologist retired in September 2018 and the vacancy has not yet been filled,” according to the document, dated July 2019. “One deputy will retire from the on-call rota in June 2019, at which point an acting deputy, currently in training, will not be fully trained. This would leave only one deputy state pathologist and an external locum to deliver a service that has in recent years required a rota of three full-time forensic pathologists (plus an external locum for cover).”

The DJE had faced “significant challenges” in recruiting forensic pathologists to the OSP in recent years, with remuneration levels cited by prospective candidates as one reason behind this.

An application to the Medical Council for specialty recognition in 2011 was refused on the basis that there were too few practitioners in Ireland. However, the review noted that the Council had since developed a new process for specialty recognition.

“A new application needs to be made as a matter of urgency in order to establish a training scheme in forensic pathology in Ireland and thereby ensure the future of the forensic pathology service,” according to the review.

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