"IT'S like torture".
That's how Leeton mayor Paul Maytom views wait times for autopsies and the impact it has on families, including in the shire.
Currently, coronial autopsies are conducted at dedicated facilities in Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
However, due to issues such as staff shortages and heavy workloads, this means long wait times for families who are not only having to deal with the grief and loss of losing a family member or friend, but it can effectively hold up the farewell and burial process.
Councillor Maytom was first alerted to how serious the issue was recently by a family in the shire, who were forced to wait more than a month to bury their loved one following extended hold ups with the autopsy process in Newcastle.
"It's got to be some form of torture," Cr Maytom said.
"Families are already going through the extremely hard process of losing someone, but then not being able to move on with the process is simply heartbreaking.
"One would think in today's modern age something more can be done.
"Clearly the staff shortages are an issue, but surely with all the technology and things we can do today, something more can be done."
Most autopsies for this region were often conducted in Wagga, but those facilities were closed down in 2016.
According to NSW Health, complex coronial post-mortems can only be performed by highly qualified forensic pathologists who have undergone specialist training and certification.
Forensic pathologists also require the support of specialist teams, including qualified technicians, forensic medicine social workers and other essential staff.
Member for Wagga Doctor Joe McGirr has been pushing the envelope on the issue and now Cr Maytom plans to do the same.
"It's simply not good enough," he said.
It's got to be some form of torture.Leeton mayor Paul Maytom
"I would certainly back an investigation into this.
"If I need to, I will also take a motion to the Country Mayors Association.
"Something needs to change. It's inhumane that this is happening to families.
"The loss of someone is already hard enough without having to deal with this too."
Ideally, Cr Maytom would like to see autopsies being conducted once again in the region, but if not, he would like to see wait times decreased at the other locations, so families aren't having to wait as long.
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