Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs


Storage for research

In addition to storing material for anatomical examination, education, and training, 14 establishments (47%) reported that they store relevant material for research studies ‘in connection with disorders, or the functioning of the human body’. This is a ‘scheduled purpose’ for the Research sector under the Human Tissue Act 2004. This included two establishments that reported holding material in a Research Tissue Bank under their Anatomy licence. One establishment had current generic research ethics approval from a recognised Research Ethics Committee. This contrasts with the 2017 compliance update, where no establishments reported that they included a Research Tissue Bank facility under the governance of their licence. 

Number of bodies received

The compliance data shows that Anatomy establishments can vary quite widely in the number of donated bodies they receive each year (graph below). For example:

  • Eleven establishments did not receive any donated bodies in 2019;
  • Three establishments received fewer than ten bodies; and
  • One establishment received 90 donated bodies in 2019. 

This contrast indicates the varying needs of the different establishments and may be influenced by the type of courses or training they may undertake.


Preservation methods

Seven of the 38 Anatomy establishments do not perform any preservation on site. We found that a range of methods are performed at the remaining 31 establishments (graph below), with most establishments using several different methods for preserving bodies and tissue. A comparison with the information submitted in 2017 (second graph below) suggests that there may be more widespread use of ‘softfix embalming’, although information on softfix embalming was not explicitly requested previously.

Eight establishments indicated that individuals other than staff, such as students, might be involved in the preparation of bodies. This was only conducted under the close supervision of establishment staff.



Key findings from the Anatomy sector
Last updated on: 7 Jul 2020