Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has said building resilience in an all-Ireland paediatric service is needed to ensure bereaved parents do not have to travel to England for infant post-mortems in the future.
He was commenting after it was confirmed that 24 post-mortems on infants from the north of Ireland have been carried out in Liverpool since January.
The West Belfast MLA said: “The current arrangement is putting additional stress and burden on bereaved parents at an extremely difficult time in their lives.
“Paediatric Pathology is a very specialised area and the health service here have had great difficulty in successfully recruiting to fill these important vacancies.
“I met with the PHA in February and discussed efforts being made to ensure the service returns here as soon as possible.
“There was consensus in the room that the need to build capacity in paediatric pathology services on the island of Ireland is central to ensuring a sustainable service is made available to people in the north.
“The need to work on an all-Ireland basis-particularly with regards to specialised health services-is broadly recognised and we see it in examples such as the all-island congenital heart disease network.
“We want local paediatric pathology services returned to the north but this needs to be underpinned by an all-island approach in order to be sustainable.
“Services in the south are also under pressure therefore an all-Ireland approach would seek to improve the capacity in both health services to the benefit of bereaved parents across the island.”