Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Wednesday, 20 September 2006 14:48 UK

'Stolen bone' hospitals revealed

Matthew Chapman
Five Live Report

Bone parts were used in operations

Health watchdogs have named 25 UK hospitals which have bought potentially contaminated body parts allegedly stolen in the US.

This is as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC.

In one case a bone from New York was used in a hip replacement operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Stanmore, Middlesex.

It has also emerged that some patients have not been told about concerns surrounding implanted bones.

In total 82 bone parts were used in so called allograft operations involving potentially dozens of UK patients.

The source of these bones are dead bodies in the US.

There are concerns that some of them may have been stolen.

US police investigation

Police in New York are investigating claims that the managers of a company called Biomedical Tissue Services took body parts without the consent of next of kin.

They have also been accused of falsifying safety records which might otherwise have shown if the tissue or bone was infected with diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.

The bones were eventually bought by a Swindon-based company which sold them on to hospitals in the UK.

Following the US investigation the company recalled all the unused bones in October 2005.

In the US the regulatory authority the FDA has advised doctors to offer patients testing to check if they have contracted any diseases from possibly infected bones and tissue.

In the UK the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority has concluded that the possibility of infection is low and has left it up to individual hospitals to decide whether to tell patients what has happened.

Not informed

The BBC has learnt that patients treated at the Royal London Hospital, Guys Hospital, and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital have not been told about the recall of bones or offered follow up tests.

Other hospitals such as Mayday University Hospital in South London and Airedale General Hospital in Keighley have been told about concerns surrounding the source of their bone implants.

Other hospitals returned bones they had bought before they were implanted.

The Northern General Hospital in Sheffield says it returned a whole arm bone costing over £700.

The MHRA has sent out a letter to the NHS Trusts affected by the recall advising that follow up tests are unnecessary.

A spokesman said it was up to doctors to decide whether to tell their patients about the bone recall.

The full list of hospitals, uncovered by the BBC, is:

    Airedale General Hospital, KeighleyBUPA Hartswood Hospital, BrentwoodBUPA Hospital, CardiffDerriford Hospital, PlymouthDoncaster Royal Infirmary, DoncasterGuy's Hospital, LondonLlandough Hospital, LlandoughMayday University Hospital, CroydonNorth London Nuffield Hospital, EnfieldNorth Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, Stoke-on-TrentNorthern General Hospital, SheffieldNorthwick Park and St Marks Hospital, HarrowParkside Hospital, WimbledonRoyal London HospitalRoyal National Orthopaedic Hospital, StanmoreScunthorpe General HospitalSomerset Nuffield Hospital, TauntonSouthend HospitalSt George's Hospital, LondonTaunton & Somerset Hospital, TauntonTorbay HospitalUniversity Hospital of Wales, CardiffWarrington Hospital Wellington Hospital, LondonWessex Nuffield Hospital, Eastleigh

The full Five Live Report investigation will be broadcast in October.

Hospital took 'stolen' body parts
20 Sep 06 |  Bradford
Stolen body parts 'sold to NHS'
11 Sep 06 |  Health
Four charged over US bones theft
23 Feb 06 |  Americas
Alistair Cooke's bones 'stolen'
22 Dec 05 |  Americas

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