Ash cash cremation fees set to end
'Ash cash' cremation fees set to end

Hospitals are starting to scrap cremation certificate fees which have been used by doctors to fund social events and pay television.

Doctors are required to certify that a body is suitable for cremation, such as being without a pacemaker which might explode during the cremation.

But many who carry out the process charge a fee of up to $90 - money known as "ash cash" - and have spent it on their own social events, the Dominion Post reports.

In an email to regional representatives, Resident Doctors' Association national secretary Deborah Powell advised them of media Official Information Act inquiries and that district health boards (DHBs) wanted to stop the payments.

She said the fees had been used to pay for "as an example, Sky in the (doctors') lounge".

Several large DHBs don't charge the fees, among them Capital & Coast, Auckland, Counties Manukau, and Waikato, which stopped the practice in September.

But they have been charged and used for other purposes in other areas. The fees went into an orderlies' kitty in the Hutt Valley, to a "house surgeons' fund" in Taranaki and "social events" in the MidCentral Health area.

"It should really go into the hospital coffers," Peter Beauchamp of Manawatu's Beauchamp Funeral Home told the newspaper.

"I suppose we knew in the back of our minds it was going into a fund for the doctors, but I thought it would've been an educational fund."

NZ Newswire

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