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Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Baby organ claims rejected by inquiry
specimen jars
The report has found no specimens were incinerated
Allegations that a hospital disposed of dead babies' body parts as clinical waste were untrue, an investigation has concluded.

Mortuary workers at the Kings Mill Centre, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts, had claimed that a pathologist told them to send the organs and foetuses for incineration.

After these claims came to light in a Sunday newspaper article in June, Health Secretary Alan Milburn ordered an independent inquiry.

Its report says, however, that the body parts in question were not thrown out as clinical waste, but instead moved to a laboratory.

It suggests that the allegations were the result of a long-standing grievance with management.

The pathologist involved, Dr Geoffrey Hulman, had been suspended by the trust during the investigation, but reinstated in late July after it became clear that the allegations were without substance.

However, the investigation did find that the disposal arrangements for tissues taken from adults were "inappropriate".

Because the disposal was not dealt with in an ongoing way, backlogs had been allowed to form, it said.

Other problems

The report also highlighted management problems, particularly concerning industrial relations at the hospital.

These were acknowledged by Dr Lindsay Davies, regional director of public health for the Trent Regional Office of the NHS Executive.

She said: "Whilst those initial, sensationalised allegations have been proved to be completely without foundation, there are clearly significant management issues that need to be addressed by the trust."

The chief executive of the King's Mill Center, John Watkinson, condemned the "needless anxiety" which the original press reports had provoked.

He said: "These false allegations and the widespread media coverage they received have caused great stress to many people."

The Sunday newspaper reported that mortuary staff had been told to clear out up to 50 specimen jars containing baby body parts.

This, according to the "whistleblowers", had happened in March this year, only weeks after tougher new guidelines on organ retention and disposal were released by the Royal College of Pathologists.

The workers who made the allegations are still employed by the hospital trust.

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