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The BBC's Kevin Bouquet
"Likely that officials will be condemned"
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Lee Doherty, Parent
"Everything bar her eyes were kept"
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Dr Michael Wilks, BMA Ethics Committee
"Doctors got into bad habits"
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Vanessa Bourne & Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Patients Association chair and East London GP debate the scandal
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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 11:07 GMT
Fury over Alder Hey report

The report will lay bare the full scandal at the hospital
The NHS is bracing itself for the publication of the report into the Alder Hey Children's Hospital scandal on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn, who read the 600 page report over the weekend, has already called it "grotesque" and one of the most shocking he has ever read.

Its publication is expected to lead to scenes of anger and fury as parents learn for the first time the full extent of organ retention and removal at the Liverpool children's hospital.

Police have confirmed that they are stepping up patrols at Alder Hey to ensure the day-to-day work of the hospital continues without disruption.

Many parents are waiting for the outcome of the report before suing for compensation. Others are thought to be thinking of taking legal action.

Parents already upset by the initial press reports are expected to become even more angry as the report lays bare the full scandal at Alder Hey.

One detail expected to be revealed is that Professor Dick van Velzen, the pathologist at the centre of the Alder Hey controversy, kept a child's head preserved in a jar.

Hundreds of parents have already been told that organ parts from their children were kept for research.

Parents are gathered together at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool to read the report.

Lord Shore, a former Labour Cabinet minister attacked the arrangements saying that it was a way of "almost deliberately whipping up hostility to the medical profession."

He said he could see no other reason "for the extraordinary arrangements."

Helplines are being set up to cope with the many thousands of calls from distressed families expected after the report is published on Tuesday afternoon.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, in London, has already revealed that it is preparing to take phone calls from upset parents after a tandem report by the Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson, into the national organ retention picture, reveals that they have a "large" human organ store.

Great Ormond Street has also admitted that it sent a "one off" shipment of thymus glands to a pharmaceutical company in return for a "payment for processing".

A practice already admitted to by both Alder Hey and Birmingham Children's hospital.

New laws

Others like Annette Grimes must wait until after the report is published to discover if the hospital are still keeping parts of her son Keith, who died 40 years ago.

"They have said they can't say until after the inquiry so I can't finally bury him until after then," she said.

Although the report will centre around the actions of Professor van Velzen, it is thought to also look at the actions of other key staff at the hospital.

Mr Milburn will also be making a statement to Parliament on the scandal and is expected to promise new laws governing consent to post-mortem examinations.

This would force doctors to explain exactly what procedures they are carrying out and what happens to the organs after they are finished with.

Consent forms

At a conference in London this week Mr Milburn promised fundamental changes, saying parents have to be fully aware of just what they are consenting to.

"Above all else, for trust to thrive there has to be informed consent.

"Not a tick-in-the-box consent regime, but consent that is based on discussion and dialogue, where consent is actively sought and positively given.

"The days have gone where the NHS could act as a secret society. It cannot operate behind closed doors.

"It cannot keep patients in the dark," he said.

New hospital consent forms are expected to be issued to ensure that hospital's stick by the legislation and keep their patients fully up to date.

Second survey

The report into the retention of organs will be published alongside a second survey by the Professor Liam Donaldson.

Professor Donaldson has been looking at the national picture of organ retention and removal, and is expected to reveal that tens of thousands of body parts, many taken without consent, are being kept in teaching and research hospitals throughout Britain.

Professor Donaldson is expected to say that although the problems at Alder Hey are not replicated to the same scale elsewhere in the country, the Liverpool Hospital is not an isolated concern.

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