Amanda Holden from Britain’s Got Talent agreed to take part in a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation, which showed that aborted babies are burned to provide heat for UK hospitals. The documentary reveals that over 15,500 miscarried and stillbirth babies were burned along with clinical waste at top UK hospitals, and some remains were used to help heat medical facilities. After the story broke on Sunday, the Department of Health banned the practice and Secretary of State for Health Doctor Dan Poulter called it “totally unacceptable.” Ten NHS trusts admitted burning fetal remains with other waste and two used the bodies in “waste-to-energy” plants that generate power for heat.
In the documentary, Holden shows how aborted babies are burned to provide heat for UK hospitals such as Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge and Ipswich Hospital Trust. Channel 4‘s Dispatches revealed that, while parents believe their babies are cremated, they are actually incinerated. The incineration of fetuses was forbidden in Scotland in 2012, but the Human Tissue Authority permits it if the baby was under 24 weeks. Nowadays, one in seven pregnancies ends in a miscarriage in the UK and NHS figures illustrate that approximately 4,000 stillbirths occur every year. The documentary exposes the fact that thousands of aborted babies are burned and used as clinical waste, while parents do not give their consent to turn their babies’ remains into waste, because they are not consulted on this matter. Addenbrooke’s incinerated 797 babies under 13 weeks of gestation and Ipswich Hospital burned 1,101 bodies that were brought in from other hospitals.
The documentary showed that parents who lost their children in early pregnancy were treated without compassion and the aborted babies were burned to provide heat for UK hospitals without receiving the parents’ consent. Dr. Poulter stated that, while most hospitals respect the rules and do not resort to such inhumane acts, “the Human Tissue Authority has now been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.” NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh has written to all trusts to announce that the practice must stop. At the same time, Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, announced that he is disappointed that trusts do not inform or consult women who have suffered a miscarriage or given birth to stillborn babies.
Holden, who suffered both a miscarriage and a stillbirth herself, said that, although she was treated well by NHS staff, there are plenty of women who are treated poorly and they do not know what happened to their aborted babies. The Human Tissue Authority stated that “fetal tissue from a pregnancy lost before 24 weeks may be incinerated,” but only individual circumstances can determine whether this action is appropriate or not. Parents like Cathryn Hurley, 35 are devastated when hearing that the remains of their children are “incinerated with the rest of the day’s waste,” but plenty do not even know what happens to their babies after they are declared dead. A spokesman for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust stated that no actions are taken without the consent of the parents.
The Channel 4‘s Dispatches documentary, which airs Monday night, shows that, in two years, over 15,500 aborted babies were burned as clinical waste, while some remains were burned to be used as heat in UK hospitals.
By Gabriela Motroc