This is the second year of our current three-year Strategy, where against a backdrop of scientific, economic and political change, our core purpose remains undiminished - to ensure that human tissue and organs are used safely and ethically, and with proper consent. When this purpose is delivered, confidence of the public is maintained in the good work the professionals in our sectors undertake.
Four guiding principles drive this Strategy and reside at the heart of all we do:
- Consent – and the wishes of the donor (or in some cases, their nominated representatives or relatives) are the primary consideration when removing, storing and using human tissue.
- Dignity – is paramount in the treatment of human tissue and bodies.
- Quality – must underpin the management of human tissue and bodies.
- Honesty and openness – are the foundation of communications in matters pertaining to the use of human tissue and bodies.
The four principles, core to our regulatory work, are also set out in our new Codes of Practice that will be implemented in the current year. The way we licence and inspect establishments seeks to focus our resources on the areas of greatest risk. Our primary approach is to ensure compliance and drive higher standards. We work with establishments and the public via our regular engagement groups, through consultation, and by seeking feedback through enquiries and our website. We provide specific guidance and support to licence holders on how to meet the high quality standards the public expect. And when a more serious intervention is required, we will take robust regulatory action.
In many of the areas where we regulate, there are new products and scientific advances that were simply not contemplated at the time the Human Tissue Act was formulated. This year alone, cryopreservation, body farms and synthetic organ development all became emerging areas where the HTA has no statutory remit to regulate, but areas where we will use our principles as a framework to guide professionals and assure the public. While these activities remain outside of our formal regulation, the challenge for the HTA is to continue to maintain the confidence of professionals and public in the use of human tissue.