Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

HTA responds to reports of inappropriate handling of fetal remains

Issue date: 
24 March 2014

Dr Alan Clamp, Chief Executive of the Human Tissue Authority said:

“We have not yet seen the programme, but we are concerned by the information we have heard and have the deepest sympathy for the parents and families affected. We recognise there can be extreme distress around pregnancy loss.

"We are currently reviewing the information that has been given to us. If a hospital is at fault we will take action to avoid similar incidents happening again, and make sure lessons are learnt.

“We encourage anyone who is worried about the inappropriate handling of fetal remains to contact us, the Care Quality Commission or Department of Health.”

Speaking specifically about the reports of hospitals incinerating fetal remains, Dr Clamp added:

“We will act on this immediately. We already advise hospitals that incineration may not be appropriate for fetal remains, and will now go further in light of the information we have been given, and make our standards for hospitals clearer.”

Editor's note:

  • The HTA regulates the removal, storage and use of human tissue, under the Human Tissue Act 2004.
  • The HTA gives practical guidance to hospital/mortuary staff on sensitive disposal procedures and methods that emphasise respect for the deceased and sensitivity to the bereaved. This including specific guidance on sensitive handling  of fetal remains.
  • Through our standards we ensure that the wishes of the parents are sought and acted upon. We expect hospitals to have a clear and sensitive policy on disposal, which considers the needs of parents, and we examine this when we inspect.

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