Leicester’s Hospitals in conjunction with Leicester City Council and Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner, Mrs Catherine Mason, are changing their approach to post mortem investigations.
Traditional post mortem examinations are being replaced with less intrusive alternatives, such as using a specialised x-ray technique known as Post Mortem Computed Tomography (PMCT). This pioneering approach has been introduced in response to the wishes of the community and has been running at the Leicester Royal Infirmary since 2015, but until now has required independent funding from families.
From today (Wednesday 1 November 2017), if post-mortem investigation is required by HM Senior Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire to establish the cause of death, pathologists will determine what approach is required and the least invasive approach, including using PMCT instead of post mortem will be taken whenever possible. Where there are important questions that PMCT cannot answer, a traditional post mortem will still need to be performed.
This new system will no longer require independent funding from families for PCMT but will instead be funded entirely by the Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire.
This breakthrough has been made possible after a long period of planning by HM Senior Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, Leicester City Council representatives and the radiology and pathology management teams. They have managed to develop this service within the constraints of public funding and without impact on our on-going clinical services.
The PMCT service has been developed after 15 years of research conducted by Professor Guy Rutty MBE, Chief Forensic Pathologist for University of Leicester, Professor Bruno Morgan, Cancer Imaging and Radiology at Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester, and Claire Robinson, Lead Forensic Radiographer for Leicester’s Hospitals.
In conjunction with University of Leicester, the mortuary, radiology and pathology teams at Leicester’s Hospitals have developed techniques that have shown that PMCT can replace or enhance the traditional post mortem in many circumstances1.
Professor Morgan, said: “We are extremely grateful to all team members for making this service possible. Despite being very busy in their everyday jobs, they have all made compromises to deliver this service for the public of Leicester City and South Leicestershire.”
Establishing this service would not have been possible without the pioneering work of Professor Guy Rutty and support of the wider management teams and the Trust board at Leicester’s Hospitals. Cathy Lea, General Manager Radiology at Leicester’s Hospital, said: “This is an exciting development in post mortem investigation. We are delighted to be able to offer this new NHS service for the Leicester community.”
HM Senior Coroner, Mrs Mason supported this new service saying it is welcomed by her office as they continue to put families’ needs at the heart of their work. As well as religious groups that may find invasive post mortem examinations to be in direct challenge to their faith, there are benefits to society more broadly.