The UK's recognised professional organisation for mortuary technicians says it will not be advertising jobs at Auckland City Hospital while an investigation into allegations of bullying and concerns about work practices are investigated.

Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology (AAPT) secretary Christian Burt said the body was aware of claims detailed in a Herald investigation that are the subject of a probe by Government workplace health and safety regulator, WorkSafe.

"We will therefore not be advertising any jobs at the Auckland mortuary and if receiving calls from [technicians] interested in going to New Zealand we shall make them aware of the situation (whilst keeping all names strictly unknown and confidential).

"We do hope that the investigation in NZ will lead to action; what an awful time for UK anatomical pathology technicians who had worked there."


WorkSafe has ordered the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) to hand over files relating to a formal complaint from one staff member.

A second staff member, who has since left the job, has lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Both claim they were bullied out of their jobs in the mortuary. The two women, both born in the UK, allege hospital management knew of the bullying and failed to stop it.

They also make serious complaints about the way the mortuary handled bodies, and an alleged lack of respect shown to the dead.

Mandy Kelly, the woman behind the complaint to the ERA, alleges that mortuary staff made disparaging comments about suicide victims, the disabled and people known to be homosexual. She and the other complainant - a 33-year-old who wants to stay anonymous - claim racist terms such as "Golliwogs" were used when describing other bodies.

Both claim that bodies were rinsed with a hose after post-mortem examinations and left naked on uncleaned stainless steel trays.

Auckland City Morgue worker Mandy Kelly has left New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Auckland City Morgue worker Mandy Kelly has left New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

The Herald identified five other former staff who made strikingly similar claims, but did not follow up with formal complaints.

Burt's comments came after the AAPT was contacted by Tim Reen, a former mortuary technician who worked as a locum at the Auckland City Hospital in 2009.

Reen warned other British technicians not to apply for jobs at the morgue.

Now a teaching technician at Oxford University, he said he regretted the day he and his family moved to New Zealand seven years ago.

Reen said he was appalled by what he believed were the "sloppy" work practices of other technicians.

"There was a blasé, noncholant attitude towards cleaning and pushing the bodies around on the trolleys."

Reen said he and a female technician from Manchester were bullied about their English accents.

The ADHB communications team declined to comment on the AAPT stance.

It said there was nothing to add to an initial statement saying the mortuary is accredited, work is clinically excellent and meets legal health and safety requirements. It said it could not comment on "unsubstantiated hearsay" about individuals but issues brought to management attention were always investigated and appropriate action taken.

"We have done, and continue to do, extensive work on improving our culture."

The board did not answer specific questions about the allegations, or the WorkSafe investigation. Nor would it make anyone available for interview.

The mortuary was opened in 2000 as part of a $500 million upgrade of hospital services in the region.

It can store about 40 bodies at a time, and an average of three post-mortem examinations a day are done there. Its services are called upon to determine the cause of death for anything from homicides to sudden deaths and suicides.