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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 15:29 GMT
Damages for organ retentions paid
Image of organs
Organ retention laws have been tightened since the scandals
The NHS has agreed to pay more than 3.6m in damages to the families of deceased patients whose organs were removed without consent.

The NHS Litigation Authority said the sum would now be paid to solicitors to be shared amongst over 1,270 claimants.

Some 37,000 people were affected by the "organ retention scandal" but just over 2,000 of those made a claim.

The agreement comes after a four-year legal battle that led to a High Court hearing last year.

The NHS is also to pay just under 1.7 million, plus VAT, towards the claimants' legal costs.

We hope it has brought a sense of closure to the bereaved families
A spokesman for the NHSLA

The claims relate to cases, many involving children, at 146 hospital trusts throughout England.

The practice of keeping organs and tissue samples from deceased patients without consent, compared to donation which is when the patient or family agrees to having tissue samples or organs taken for research purposes, first came to light in 1998 at the public inquiry into children's heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

In 1999 it was revealed doctors at the Liverpool children's hospital had kept dead babies' organs without consent.

The news was widely reported, reaching a peak when the official inquiry report was published at the beginning of 2001.

In 2002, compensation settlement worth 5m was been offered to the affected families at Alder Hey.

Other hospitals were also involved in similar "retention scandals".

A spokesman for the NHSLA said: "We believe this action will be remembered for a number of things.

"We hope it has brought a sense of closure to the bereaved families in what has been a profoundly distressing experience for them.

"It has also helped to bring legal clarity to the relationship between relatives and doctors after the death of a patient."

Peter Livingstone, partner at law firmClarke Willmott which handled some of the claims, said: "We appreciate that this has been a very upsetting and stressful time for the claimants, and we are pleased that a legal precedent has now been set preventing others from having to go through the same ordeal."

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