Anarchy of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Teneriffe

The lack of formaldehyde to perform autopsies during a weekend in February showed one of the consequences of the deep conflict at the Legal Medical Institute of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Added to this is another existing issue: staff condemn the lack of an action protocol to determine the age of unaccompanied minors arriving in the Canary Islands via the world’s most dangerous sea route. Among other issues, it is criticized that an orthopantomograph (the instrument used to perform these tests to certify age) without having worked in an area that they believe meets the conditions does not do. This problem has recently been transferred to the Common Deputy, but in addition, staff have reported deterioration in the center’s facilities to the Labor Inspection and the Ministry of Health.

Since last month, employees have been on indefinite strike, a fact that has led the CC-PP government of the Canary Islands to announce new measures such as greater budget allocations (about four million more) or the incorporation of two new subsidiaries. Autopsy Service. However, a large part of the workers supporting the strike believe that these initiatives are inadequate and insist on requesting the dismissal of the director, Jesús Vega González, who was also accused of giving “hidden punishment” to a worker last year. was convicted.

In addition to financial penalties, the conviction also included a requirement for the public administration to open a file. This is exactly one of the demands of the employees, who believe that disciplinary proceedings already established by a final court decision “should be initiated”. The current government of the Canary Islands states that this file was opened in the previous legislature and that it expired without dismissal. In addition to this conflict, the judiciary protected a judge who had condemned Jesús Vega for pressure and incompetence. This newspaper tried to contact the IMF director but did not get any response. “We have a very serious problem with the management of the Institute of Legal Medicine, which is the main manager of resources and the person distributing the work,” a forensic expert assured this newspaper.

The workers insist that one of the purposes of the indefinite strike (which they claim cannot be undertaken by everyone for economic reasons) is to have the Director of the Institute of Legal Medicine removed from office over “irregularities” and “lack of transparency”. “To be dismissed for. , Likewise, they request the “opening up” of the relevant files and “clarification of responsibilities” arising therefrom. The Executive’s Department of Public Administration and Justice says that “there is an open file, which continues its work, and which is being compared with the information provided. Once this is concluded, the decision reflected in the file will be taken. They also point out that several negotiation tables have been convened and that the area director has participated because he is the one to whom it corresponds.

On the other hand, the staff demands more resources for the proper activity of the legal medical institution. And at this point, they especially demand forensic doctors, autopsy assistants, forensic psychologists, social workers as well as processing and tax assistance bodies. In short, “rapid and effective management of employee absenteeism” as well as “increased staffing.” They emphasize that adequate compliance with labor rights and worker protections must be “guaranteed”.

Another demand is to regulate shift hours for autopsy assistants and processing and judicial support bodies. Emphasis is placed on the need to provide various services with essential materials and their adequate regular supply, “ensuring adequate acquisition and distribution of consumable materials required to carry out medico-legal autopsies and personal protective equipment.” Another issue that is essential is to guarantee the collection of biological remains, implementing a collection system for toxic products (formol) or acquiring freezers for the preservation of biological samples.

Similarly, workers urge that the infrastructure be improved for its proper functioning and thus compliance with the current rules. For this reason, they emphasize that autopsy rooms and transit areas for corpses should be repaired, as well as preservation chambers replaced “because they break down every week.” They also ask that measures be adopted from the existing regulations of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences and that the working plan of the Institute of Legal Medicine be updated, as the current plan dates back to 2005.

irregularities that have taken root

Employees speak of “hostile behavior” by the director and his “lack of transparency”. In a letter, he lamented the “omission” of requests made by the Board of Directors in response to the “irregularities” of its management and stressed that the staff had access to information on issues “essential for the correct development of the institution’s activity.” There is lack of information. ,

Among these irregularities, he mentions that the director designated and certified a shift of guards for months, overlapping on several occasions with the guards of the La Laguna area “to the ignorance of the rest of the forensic doctors”. He says these events have prompted a “judicial file” that is currently ongoing. According to the employees who signed the notice of strike notice (dated last January), there is a “lack of transparency” with regard to compliance with the rules regulating the functioning of the institutions and, according to them, the directors have been without “practice”. Despite not being “free from them” the functions underlying his job as a forensic doctor in the Judicial District of La Laguna, therefore, these functions are being eclipsed by “reinforcement forensics”.

One section on which activists insist is that there is “no planning” regarding the organization of the institute and the activity of its staff and that they blame the Director for transferring forensic experts between different delegations “from one day to the next”. Accused of agreeing to it. “” without “foresight or prior planning” and “completely outside the scope of the services and headquarters.”

One of the issues stressed by the forensic doctors consulted by this newspaper is that there is “no record of activity” or “data” of the institution’s overall activity and decisions on personnel measures, distribution of work and material resources ” are taken without any “purpose”. data”, which generates a “gap in workload” across services and delegations “given the lack of knowledge of its global activity”. In this sense, they cite as an example the announcement by the Canary Islands Government to invest two million euros in this institution. As they stress that there is no data on which to base this budget increase, perhaps more or less allocations are necessary. “Materially and personally, we are “Decisions about what they are demanding are made outside of negotiations with strike committees.”

Delay in expert reports

One of the shortcomings that staff continue to claim is that there is no “plan” nor measures taken regarding the creation and amendments of judicial bodies. They present as an example what has meant the disappearance of violence against women in some judicial districts, which has led to the concentration of activity in others (as is the case of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Arona) and A new Court of Instance and Instruction has been created in Granadilla.

Another irregularity that emerges is the lack of foresight in specific situations of personnel shortage, such as the shortage of psychologists or more recently the shortage of autopsy technicians, which has led to the suspension of expert reports or the lack of agreement with other institutions. Forced to delay. Able to solve this problem. Problems with outside personnel.

Nor do they believe there is adequate management of the transfer of forensic doctors and autopsy assistants where “the dignity and rights of workers are not respected.” He believes that it is “unthinkable” on the part of the administration that “they have to pay money in advance from their own pockets” or “the refund is delayed by even a day due to lack of foresight.” Similarly, they say there are no action protocols in cases of “major disasters” and “no information is provided” on the procedures or processing of activities and the way taxi trip forms are completed and processed. .

Shortage of personnel and transfers “without objective criteria”

Shortage of personnel remains one of the major complaints. Activists highlight that in this situation there is an “absence” of adopting measures, which leads to an increased workload in the various offices and services of the Legal Medical Institute. This causes “delays” in the release of reports and “overloads” the activity of affected forensic experts.

On the other hand, they condemn that “arbitrary measures” have been taken by the Director, which “damage the service that the Institute provides to the courts and to the employees of this organization” in terms of the granting of holidays, appropriate measures. Shortage of personnel and transfer of personnel from one headquarters to another without objective criteria and without prior planning.”

The strike continues and at the end of April, members of the strike committee composed of the Intersyndicalist Canarias, CCOO, Union of Workers of the Administration of Justice (STAJ) or Central Syndicate Independent y Civil Servants (CSIF) unions will strike. Intervene in a Commission MP. For its part, the latest measure by the Canary Islands Government is to announce the award of the supply and installation of a mortuary refrigeration chamber and an carving station, to be used by the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in La Palma. ,


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