Security ministry tells funeral homes to stop double-billing
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Major General Stewart Saunders says that contracted funeral homes should not be charging families for the removal of the deceased, whose death is later deemed not sudden in nature or requiring a forensic pathologist.
The permanent secretary, who was addressing a recent town hall meeting in Montego Bay, St James, said it had come to his attention that some unscrupulous funeral home operators have been double-billing, charging families of deceased persons and the national security ministry for the same service.
"Even if the police sends a body to a funeral home today and, within 48 hours, it is discovered that the deceased should not have gone to a contracted funeral home, then there should be no payment," Saunders stressed.
"Those payments are made by the Ministry of National Security and ought not to be passed on to the family of the deceased," he added.
He said he met recently with a number of funeral home owners and police forensic representatives and the matter was discussed.
"If the families are asked to pay, then they can call the Ministry of National Security directly and ask for me. It is not fair for a grieving family to be asked to pay for something that the Government is dealing with already," he said.
Saunders said it has also been discovered that unauthorised persons have been ordering and carrying out autopsies and signing subsequent reports on behalf of the ministry for a fee.
"This is another matter that has come to our attention and which we are addressing because we have found out in recent times that there is a lot of corruption in the system," he said.
He emphasised that all post-mortems are to be confirmed by the government pathologists and that only police officers can instruct funeral homes to release bodies and inform regarding the place where the post-mortem will be done.