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Corpse examinations too expensive, say police

The Department of Forensic Medicine is to shed 20 members of staff. Why? The government and police reckon it costs too much to do autopsies

It’s been a busy year with lots of corpses and DNA to examine. And at the Department of Forensic Medicine, employees are now wondering why 20 of them are to be given the sack. This is according to our Danish section Universitetsavisen.

Each year the Department of Forensic Medicine, part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, investigates approximately 1,000 victims of violence, rape, child abuse, and torture.

They inspect individuals suspected of murder and assess the age of asylum seekers. Apart from all this, the department carries out 650 autopsies a year related to murder cases, identification and casualties. It also carries out DNA tests.

Read feature article on the department: Knocking on death’s door

New technology should ease workload

There is no lack of demand for the skills of the Department of Forensic Medicine. But according to the Ministry of Justice, the Danish National Police, the price of the department’s services are too high, and not competitive.

An autopsy completed by the University costs the Danish police DKK 27,000. 95 per cent of the Department’s earnings come from forensic services. Now, the government and police want price cuts, and thereby also staff cuts.

The demand for lower prices first presented itself after an analysis for the Danish National Police by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2010. A significant saving could be made by structural alterations, the analysis concludes. New technology should ease the human work load, the report recommends. University of Copenhagen is not the only one who’s too pricy. Forensic Science services in UK and Wales are facing the same problems and face being shut down.

Follow picture story: The world of forensic medicine.

We need time to adjust

Ingrid Kryhlmand, staff representative at the Faculty of Health Sciences, thinks that staff at Forensic Medicin have been treated unfairly.

She cannot see why the Department of Forensic Medicine is not being given more time to organise the letting go of employees.

»It is unacceptable that the University does not consider itself a workplace where people help each other. University of Copenhagen expects a profit of DKK 275 million this year, so it should be possible to give the Department of Forensic Medicine a reasonable amount of time to restructure. This way we could avoid many of the layoffs,« concludes Ingrid Kryhlmand.

anna.m.gaonkar@adm.ku.dk

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