The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) held its annual conference this week, focusing on conversations around death and dying.
The conference brought together speakers from a broad range of organisations working in this area including the Royal College of Pathologists, Barts Pathology Museum and the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath.
As the regulator ensuring the safe and ethical use of human tissue and organs, protecting the wishes of the deceased is a central part of the HTA’s work. Essential to protecting these wishes, is the need for sharing and discussion.
However, while we know it is important, death can be a difficult topic to talk about. Throughout the conference, speakers and attendees discussed these challenges, as well as issues surrounding:
- the treatment of bodies after death
- death before birth
- the public perception of death and dying
- death and dying in the media
Sharmila Nebhrajani OBE, Chair of the HTA, said: “it was clear from the remarks of our speakers that for death, just like birth, we only get one chance to get it right, whether it is the fate of our bodies after our death or our treatment when we are dying. The principles of consent and dignity that guide the HTA's work are at the heart of the decisions professionals have to take at these difficult moments".
At the conference, the HTA also launched their annual review publication for 2016/17: ‘Protecting public confidence; ensuring professional standards'. The publication gives an overview of the variety of work the HTA has carried out over the last year.
Sharmila added, “the 2016/17 review demonstrates the HTA’s emphasis on providing advice and guidance, and working collaboratively with the establishments we regulate and other stakeholders. It also highlights our work on inspections and investigations, as well as in assessing living organ and bone marrow donations and transplantations.”