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