Ireland continuing to struggle to recruit forensic pathologists

Ireland is struggling to make senior appointments to the Office of the State Pathologist due to a “worldwide shortage of forensic pathologists”, the acting chief state pathologist has said.

Writing in the foreword to her office’s 2019 annual report, Dr Linda Mulligan said a second competition for the chief state pathologist post and a competition for a state pathologist post were unsuccessful in 2019.

The office was struck a major blow by the retirement in December of Dr Michael Curtis, who took over as acting chief pathologist at the end of 2018.

Dr Mulligan, who took on the role in June 2019, said: “The loss of Dr Curtis, an experienced, dedicated and widely respected forensic pathologist, was a significant one, particularly so close to Professor Cassidy’s retirement. His expert guidance and in-depth forensic knowledge will be difficult to replace.”

However, she said there were also “some positive developments” in 2019, including the publication in September of a review of the OSP by the Royal College of Physicians (RCPI).

Welcoming the report, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “The Office of the State Pathologist plays a vital role in the criminal justice system through investigating suspicious deaths. The expertise and professionalism of our pathologists is an essential service to An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and ultimately to the families of victims seeking justice.

“The common thread through all aspects of their role is that of service. Service to the deceased victims of crime and to their families and friends. Service to the next generation of professionals in the field. And service to society at large.

“I commend the Office for the very difficult work which they carry out, on all of our behalf.

“The Annual Report makes reference to the excellent work done by the RCPI in their Review of the Office published in 2019. My Department is fully committed to working with the OSP in the coming years to give practical effect to the recommendations of the Review.”

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