Autopsies “on hold” as Algarve faces shortage of coroners

The Algarve is currently experiencing a “serious shortage of coroners” which has led to a backlog of autopsies still waiting to be carried out.

The delicate situation was highlighted by RTP on Monday (September 28) and included the story of a family that had been “anxiously waiting” for six days for an autopsy to determine how a relative died.

“We can’t accept something like this. But there’s nothing we can do. We wait anxiously for the day (of the autopsy),” Célia Estrelo, the daughter-in-law of deceased Marcolino Guerreiro, told the TV station.

The Institute of Legal Medicine has justified the shortage, explaining that the coroners at Portimão and Faro hospitals coincidentally went on leave at the same time. A coroner from Braga has been brought down to the Algarve but the institute admits it is “too much work for just one person”.

To try and solve the situation, the institute has launched a course in Lisbon designed to provide training to “20 forensic medicine technicians” and allow them to take on some of the coroners’ responsibilities.