Au­topsy scan­ner would cost coun­cil £1m a year to run

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Coun­cil Correspondent

APOST-MORTEM body scan­ner which could cost Birm­ing­ham tax­pay­ers around £1 mil­lion a year to fund would pro­vide valu­able re­search for med­i­cal treat­ments, it has been ar­gued.

The city coun­cil is draw­ing up two busi­ness cases around in­stalling and run­ning a Com­puter To­mog­ra­phy Post Mortem ma­chine.

It comes fol­low­ing a 13,000-strong pe­ti­tion call­ing for it, in­clud­ing many peo­ple from Jewish and Mus­lim back­grounds who pre­fer the non-in­va­sive ex­am­i­na­tion method as op­posed to in­ten­sive dis­sec­tion of the body.

But an ini­tial coun­cil re­port warned of the sig­nif­i­cant costs sur­round­ing the scan­ner.

It stated it could cost £1 mil­lion to in­stall the ma­chine and a fur­ther £1 mil­lion ev­ery year if the coun­cil footed the bill to use it in­stead of bereaved fam­i­lies.

The two op­tions cur­rently be­ing con­sid­ered are to base the scan­ner at Birm­ing­ham mor­tu­ary in New­ton Street or at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hospi­tal. It is thought the lat­ter op­tion would also in­cur ex­tra costs of around £250,000 a year to pay for bod­ies to be trans­ported. This comes as the coun­cil needs to save £117 mil­lion by 2021/22.

But Cllr Roger Harmer (Lib Dem, Acocks Green) ar­gued the scan­ner would reap wider ben­e­fits for the health ser­vice dur­ing a de­bate among mem­bers of the coun­cil’s Housing and Neigh­bour­hoods over­view and scru­tiny com­mit­tee on Tues­day.

He said: “The £1 mil­lion for deal­ing with a nec­es­sary process is clearly a lot of money but you could look at it an­other way in terms of the amount of money spent on health­care over­all.

“Hav­ing a scan­ner will im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of the causes of death. Through­out med­i­cal his­tory a good un­der­stand­ing of the cause of death has driven treat­ments for­ward. Set­ting out the £1 mil­lion against the cost of the NHS is tiny.

“If it gives clues about bet­ter treat­ment, in that sense the cost and value looks very, very dif­fer­ent.”

Birm­ing­ham fam­i­lies cur­rently have to pay £450 for the use of a scan­ner at John Rad­cliffe Hospi­tal in Ox­ford as well as the trans­porta­tion of the body if they in­sist on a non-in­va­sive post-mortem.

Only eight re­quests were made in 2017, all car­ried out in Sandwell.

A re­port sug­gested such scan­ners are un­likely to save time.

> A post-mortem scan­ner would cost a huge amount but save lit­tle time

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