Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by   hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants 

More than 15,000 aborted or miscarried babies were burned as 'clinical waste' an investigation has discovered

More than 15,000 aborted or miscarried babies were burned as ‘clinical waste’ an investigation has discovered Photo: Alamy

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By , Science Correspondent

7:00AM GMT 24 Mar 2014

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as   clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has   found. 

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish   while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate   power for heat. 

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice   which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last   two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered. 

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in   early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted   about what they wanted to happen to the remains.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge,   incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to   energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private   contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013. 

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating   energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by   cremation. 

“This practice is totally unacceptable,” said Dr Poulter. 

“While the vast majority of hospitals are acting in the appropriate way, that   must be the case for all hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority has now   been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, has written to all NHS trusts to tell   them the practice must stop. 

The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has also written to the Human   Tissue Authority to ask them make sure that guidance is clear. 

And the Care Quality Commission said it would investigate the programme’s   findings. 

Prof Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed   trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families. 

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use   services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us. 

“We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if   required.”

A total of one in seven pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, while NHS figures   show there are around 4,000 stillbirths each year in the UK, or 11 each day. 

Ipswich Hospital Trust said it was concerned to discover that foetal remains   from another hospital had been incinerated on its site. 

A spokeswoman said: “The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust does not incinerate foetal   remains.”

She added that the trust “takes great care over foetal remains”

A spokesman for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said   that trained health professionals discuss the options with parents ‘both   verbally and in writing.’

“The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of foetal   remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected,”    they added. 

Channel 4 Dispatches, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, airs   tonight (Monday March 24) at 8pm