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.
Significant efforts have been made to try and retain a service within Northern Ireland – including repeated recruitment drives both nationally and internationally.
The HSCB has approached every NHS provider of paediatric pathology services across the UK, as well as those in the Republic of Ireland (RoI), however, regrettably, no organisation was found that could provide continuity through an in-reach service to Northern Ireland for the provision of hospital perinatal and paediatric post-mortems. Looking at the medium to longer term, health officials from Northern Ireland and the RoI will investigate the feasibility of an all-island approach to the delivery paediatric pathology services.
Therefore, to ensure families still can access a service from 2019, interim arrangements have been put in place to provide paediatric pathology services from Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool from 3rd January 2019.
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.