The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), Public Health Agency (PHA) and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (Belfast Trust) have been working to address significant challenges in providing a perinatal and paediatric pathology service in Northern Ireland.
Currently, the Belfast Trust provide a perinatal and paediatric pathology service on a regional basis across Northern Ireland.
The current consultant paediatric pathologist working in Northern Ireland is leaving his post in Belfast Trust early in 2019. To date there have been no applicants to join the service in Northern Ireland despite repeated recruitment drives nationally and internationally.
Regrettably, despite all possible efforts, it is unlikely that a local service will be possible in the short term. Any changes will only be made on an interim basis, and the HSC will continue to exhaust all avenues to provide a local service in Northern Ireland.
After a recent visit to Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in June 2018, a proposal to provide this service as part of a network arrangement with Belfast Trust is being pursued.
The primary purpose of a hospital perinatal and paediatric pathology service is to conduct post-mortem examinations. The great majority of paediatric post-mortems in Northern Ireland are babies who are stillborn, as well as late miscarriages and babies who survive only a short time after birth It also includes, much more rarely, hospital post-mortem examinations of older babies and children.